Severe Rain

When gritter trucks take to the roads in July, you know that something pretty extreme is happening to the weather.

Those trucks spreading rock salt are of course quite normal in winter. But what are they doing out in the height of summer?

The deterioration in the road surface caused by extreme heat has forced some local authorities to grit the carriageway in a bid to stop motorists leaving the road.

But melting tarmac is not the only problem that drivers have to cope with when it’s this hot. The old joke about the British summer being two hot days followed by a thunderstorm has more than a grain of truth: at some point, the heavens will open and we will have flash flooding. It may not be on a par with the extreme of Boscastle two years ago, but it will certainly create sudden local problems for drivers.

Rain after a long period of dry weather makes the road surface extremely slippery. A mixture of oil, loose gravel and dried rubber all work together to prevent the tyres working efficiently.

That, coupled with the fact visibility is reduced drastically by the torrential rain, means a potential crash waiting to happen.

If you encounter a flash flood this summer, slow down to the point where you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear. Your stopping distances will be far longer than on the dry roads that you are used to. If the weather is causing flash floods – do you really need to drive somewhere?

Meanwhile, while the sun is still high in the sky, think about replacing those dodgy windscreen wipers that have been smearing for a while. That preparation will stand you in good stead come the winter months and fresh wipers will help you cope with summer rain in the meanwhile. It’s also worth trying one of the products that remove rain from the windscreen which extend the life of the wipers. And keep your windscreen bottle topped up, remembering not to use washing up liquid, which causes needless smears.

21 July 2006 Staff

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