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Driving safely in the rain

‘When it rains, it kills’ is the stark warning of Highways England’s recent road safety campaign to promote awareness of the dangers of driving at speed in wet conditions. Statistics show that nearly 3,000 people were killed or seriously injured driving in the rain last year.

Travelling too fast for the prevailing conditions was identified as a factor in 1 in 9 road deaths in Great Britain, with drivers failing to alter how they drive in response to hazardous weather.

It can take at least twice as long to stop on a wet road than on a dry road because tyres have less grip on the road surface. Additionally, the dirty water spray from vehicles ahead adversely affects visibility, often for some time after the rainfall has ceased. Reduced visibility, coupled with longer braking distances, significantly increases the risk of collisions occurring.

The correlation between adverse weather and a related increase in road traffic accidents has been the subject of much research across the globe and numerous studies have identified an increase in road accidents during rainfall1, with various British studies revealing that one-third of all injury accidents occurred on wet roads, and half of these when rain was falling2.

It is generally acknowledged that, when faced with snow or ice on the roads, drivers tend to exercise more caution and tailor their driving techniques and speed accordingly. However, rain is the most common, year-round weather hazard to affect Britain and it seems that many motorists are immune to the change in conditions and prone to proceed as normal.

The advice from Highways England for wet weather driving is that you should:

  • slow down if the rain and spray from vehicles ahead is making it difficult to see and be seen;
  • keep a good distance from the vehicle in front as this will increase your ability to see, plan ahead, and react to brake lights or standing puddles of water; and
  • ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually if the steering becomes unresponsive as it probably means that water is preventing the tyres from gripping the road

Strong visual guidance is vital to ensure a safe, positive driving experience, yet when visibility is poor due to adverse weather, some road lane markings can be almost invisible. Clearview Intelligence offers a range of all-weather rain marking solutions that can help motorists to drive in wet, reduced-visibility conditions.

Our SolarLite active road studs and hardwired intelligent stud solutions provide up to 10x greater visibility than traditional retro-reflective cat’s eyes and are clearly seen even in the pouring rain. This extra visibility provides drivers with more time to react, minimising the potential risk and severity of incidents.

Even in less inclement weather, the number of road deaths in Great Britain has continued to rise steadily since 2013 according to the latest Department for Transport (DfT) statistics. There were an estimated 1,810 road deaths in the year ending September 2016, a 2% increase from the previous year (1,767), and a total of 25,160 KSIs, up by 6% from the previous year.

Like Highways England, we are committed to helping to reduce road accidents and improve driver behaviour through raising awareness and creating innovative road safety solutions. Contact us to find out how we can work together to make our road networks safer - whatever the weather.


1 Palutikof, 1991
2 Codling, 1974; TRRL, 1974; Smith, 1982

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