How to Drive Safely during one of Malaysia’s EPIC Rainfall

We who have grown up in this country might not blink twice at the heavy rain, strong winds, deafening thunders and blinding lightning that come with the monsoon season. However, if you are in the presence of a visitor to this here parts when the next rainstorm befalls us, you’d be surprised at how thunderstruck (pardon the pun), and even frightened, they are; it’s as if the deluge was a sign of the end of times. That said, the heavy rain is not to be taken lightly – it has caused many a road accident and damaged countless vehicles, not to mention led to fatal flashfloods. Inevitably, you will find yourself stuck on the road when the rain comes falling hard. So, this rainy season, prepare yourself and your vehicle so that you will arrive at your destination safely:

1) Change your windshield wiper

Because of the hot weather here, the windshield wiper splits and cracks faster, which means you should change it more often. When it no longer gives you a clean swipe – ie. it leaves streaks – it’s time to toss it for a new one.

2) Apply a water repellent solution on the windshield

A bottle of Rain-X costs only 30 ringgit on, and each application can last up to 3 months.

3) Avoid hydroplaning by driving slooow.

If you go too fast on wet road, the tyres start to lose contact with the road surface and that is BAD. You would no longer be able to steer or brake; essentially, you’d be gliding on water. To avoid this, simply slow down.

4) If you hydroplane…

Ease up on whichever pedal you were stepping on, whether the brake or the accelerator. Although it’s hard to not panic, you have to GENTLY steer the car back to where you want it to go.

5) Know which lights to turn on

For some reason, many Malaysian drivers think they are doing everyone else a favour by turning on the hazard lights during a heavy rainfall. These people must have skipped Driving 101 because the hazard lights indicate a stationary vehicle. Switch on your headlights, do, but not the fog lights, unless visibility drops to less than 100 metres, ie. if you cannot see the tail lights of the car in front.

6) Don’t Panic when your car gets sprayed

You’re concentrating hard and trying to see through sheets of rain, so that you don’t knock into other vehicles, but there are other drivers who are reckless. We’ve all had vehicles driving past too fast and “kicked up” so much spray onto your windshield that visibility immediately becomes zero. That moment before the windshield wiper swipes away the blanket of water is stressful, because it is essentially the same as driving at 50mph blindfolded. Ease up on the accelerator but don’t brake suddenly (the car behind you might not be ready for it), and turn up the speed of the wipers a notch if it is not already on high.

7) Avoid puddles or flooded areas, but if you have to…

Potholes, engine damage, submerged dangers…there are many reasons why you should gostan(reverse) or swerve around flood water. We don’t all own a 4×4, and if you are not able to turn back, you should proceed at a slow steady pace – 1st or 2nd gear if you are driving a manual, and don’t change gears midway – to avoid hydroplaning or creating a large bow wave, which would cause water to be sucked into the engine (NOOoooo!).

Stay safe, Malaysians. After the rain, comes the rainbow!

image: SAYS

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