tom pass

Tom passes his driving test with adverse weather in Grantham.

Despite some appalling weather in Grantham this morning, Tom passed his driving test on his first attempt. I observed his test from the back of the driving school car, and there were some really tricky additional hazards that the heavy rain brings. The spray from the vehicles in front, and from the sides of lorries often produces a momentary problem with vision due to the volume of water on the front windscreen. The BIG TOM Driving School car does have some nice features like cruise control, automatic lights and also, crucially today, automatic adjustment of the speed of the windscreen wipers. This feature really does come into its own in heavy rain as it takes that additional action needed away from the driver who let’s face it, does have enough to think about in adverse weather.

Other consequences this morning included the need to increase the separation gap between us and the vehicle in front. In dry conditions, that gap should be at least 2 seconds on the faster moving roads of 50, 60, 70 mph, and no less than 4 seconds in rain. Flash flooding will produce very large pools of water on the side of the road, and if the drains and verge cannot absorb that water, it tends to create a hazard which if possible is best avoided to drive through. Not only do you not know how deep it is, and what is concealed under the pool of water, but also, at faster speeds, driving through those pools of water can affect stability and traction of the car on the road. Early spotting of them is really key, so that an assessment can be made if it is safe to manoeuvre away from the pool of water without adversely affecting other road users. Aquaplaning occurs when the cushion of water between road surface and tyre, momentarily affects steering and braking. The best advice is to spot the potential, ensure both hands maintain control of the steering wheel, check the central mirror to see how close any following vehicles are, and come off the gas.

Tom also had a few instances this morning in the middle of Grantham, where pedestrians and cyclists, who were getting thoroughly drenched, tend to take actions with a bit more urgency than normal. So being aware of sudden changes in their direction proved good, and also being aware someone may cross in front of the car, that they would not normally do in fair weather.

This short video HERE gives more practical tips about driving in heavy rain.

Big congratulations go to Tom for a job well done. As you can see by his smile, he was very pleased to pass first time – it opens up great opportunities in his work life, not to mention the new found freedom it provides.