How to drive in different types of stormy weather
Storms include high winds, heavy rain, lightning, thunder, snow or hail, which can cause anything from broken windscreens to damaged bodywork. So, we’ve pulled together a guide on some important things to know that may help you if a storm is on its way.
How can I prepare?
If you do find yourself caught in a storm while driving, it's important your car is in top condition to avoid complications like breakdowns or skidding. Here’s some advice on how to get your car storm ready:
- Check your antifreeze levels: Make sure you have enough antifreeze in your car’s system to avoid your engine freezing in cold conditions.
- Clean your car battery: Replace your battery at least every five to seven years, or before then depending on its condition, and regularly clean the battery terminals.
- Check your brakes: Keep an eye on the wear of your brakes to avoid longer braking distances.
- Heat and defrost: Regularly check that you can warm up your car’s heater and defroster. If you have to pull over in a storm, it’ll give you some comfort and will help windscreen visibility when driving by reducing frost or ice on your windscreen.
- Examine your windscreen wipers: If you notice any problems, get your windscreen wipers fixed straight away and ensure your washer fluid level is maintained.
- Check your tyres: The tread pattern on your tyres gives you grip, so check all tyres once a month to make sure it hasn’t worn away. Stick a 20p into the tread to measure the depth. If the outer border around the coin is still visible, your tyres may be unsafe and need replacing.
Are there any other ways I can prepare?
Pulling together useful items to keep in your car boot can be an effective way to help you deal with stormy conditions, whether you’re stuck on the road or have found somewhere to park up safe. Here’s a list of practical items to make a kit:
- A car mobile phone charger
- Water and non-perishable snacks
- A torch
- An ice scraper
- A first aid kit
- Clothing (warm shoes, gloves and a fleece)
- A blanket
- Jump cables
- Spare petrol or diesel
- A tow rope
- A bag of cat litter (to help grit roads)
Is it safe to drive in a storm?
Ideally you shouldn’t try to drive in a storm and avoid travelling altogether. However, no-one can guarantee when stormy weather might hit, but looking at the Met Office website, for example, can help to keep you informed.
How should I drive in a storm?
If driving is unavoidable, there are a few ways you can stay as safe as possible on the road. Here are some of our top driving safety tips:
Keep an eye on wind strength
Always look ahead for gaps between buildings, which can act as wind tunnels, and take care when overtaking larger vehicles like lorries, which could be taking the brunt of high winds. Trees lining the road can be a great indication of wind strength and can help your driving judgement.
Avoid hills and high roads
Consider investing in winter tyres, which have deeper treads than regular tyres, and take extra care when travelling on exposed routes, such as bridges - especially if there’s strong wind which could cause difficult driving conditions. If there are alternative routes, take them and avoid any high open roads.
Is my car covered for storm damage?
If your car suffers storm damage, it’s likely that it’ll be covered if you have a comprehensive policy. It’s best to check your insurance cover and evaluate whether your current policy suits your needs.