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We take the Hyundai Venue and the Grand i10 Nios out of town to explore essential safety measures one must take before driving in the rains
In the monsoons, visibility gets severely hampered; roads turn into lunarscape and grip levels are reduced. Driving can be a nightmare. Does that mean you should avoid getting behind the wheel in the rains? Absolutely not. After driving thousands of kilometres across India in the rains, we can assure you that driving on wet roads is all about ensuring that you and your car are equipped to deal with low grip situations and poor visibility. It is just a matter of understanding and minimising the risks at play, to make yourself a safer driver on the roads and we’re going to tell you how. We drove out of town in two of our long-term cars, the Hyundai Venue and the Grand i10 Nios, not only to unwind from lockdown monotony, but also to explore the aforementioned topics even further to help you become better and safer motorists during these wet months.
With massive developments in technology, modern cars are extremely reliable and require minimum attention. But that doesn’t warrant you to turn a blind eye towards your daily driver. You cannot underestimate the dire consequences of heavy rainfall either. If you check a few important things before you set out in the rains, your car can tackle sticky situations which inevitably come up. And you don’t need a mechanic to check the following things. You can do them all by yourself.
Tyres play a key role in maintaining the intended trajectory of your car by providing grip. Tread patterns and circumferential groove profiling are designed to channel the water out from under the tyres and keep them in contact with the road. If the tread pattern is worn out, it’s imperative to get the tyres replaced. An effective old-school trick to check this is to push a coin in the tread blocks and check how far in it goes. If the coin barely sinks in, you know it’s time for a new set of rubber.
Check if the wiper blades uniformly wipe water off the windshield. If they are cracked or the rubber liners worn out, it’s time for a replacement. Many Hyundai cars even get rain-sensing wipers with an intermittent variable function that avoids the need for manual adjustment.
The primary cause of many road accidents is compromised visibility. Rains impact visibility even further, making it difficult for you to scan the road ahead. That’s where well-functioning headlamps, taillamps and turn indicators make a difference. If any of these are not working, ensure timely replacement before heading out in the rains. Modern Hyundai cars get LED headlamps, taillamps and DRLs that provide excellent visibility in poor lighting conditions. Cars like the Grand i10 Nios and the Creta even get an emergency stop signal that flashes the taillamps frequently in case of panic braking to alert the vehicles behind. In the rain, remember to keep your lights on so that everyone around you can see you, and you have a clear view ahead. Also, never turn on hazard lights unless you are stopped at the side of the road. You need your indicators to show that you are turning/ changing lanes.
Monsoon or not, brakes need to be in top condition at all times. In the monsoon, grip levels are low and that only increases the braking distances of your car. Get the discs, brake pads and brake lines inspected and brake fluid levels topped up. The brakes of both our long-term Hyundai cars, the Venue and the Grand i10 Nios provide an excellent and confidence-inspiring bite.
Have you ever got muddy rain water sprayed onto your helmet visor or windscreen by the vehicles ahead of you? That’s because they were not accessorised with mud flaps. Mud flaps prevent water from spraying up and helping you contribute to the safety of other motorists on the road. If the ones on your car are not intact, get them replaced as soon as possible and be a better, more responsible road user.
Check for rust
The moist and humid climate makes cars susceptible to rust. While all carmakers provide rust protection through paint or some sort of coating, scratches and dents tend to leave the bare metal exposed to air. Without paint or a protective coating, these portions risk getting rusted. Make sure to get these recoated when you go in for service.
we have always been vocal about road safety and how to become a better driver. If you followed our #BeTheBetterGuy series, you must have learnt a trick or two when it comes to driving safely on our roads. With the additional challenges of driving in the monsoons, there are a few measures you can consciously apply to your driving to ensure your own safety and the safety of others on the road.
Smooth throttle inputs
It is perfectly okay to satiate your hunger for enthusiastic driving in dry weather. But in the rains, smooth throttle inputs are the first step towards safety. Aggressive inputs on wet roads can cause wheelspin, potentially sending your car out of control. Progressive inputs that smoothly build up speed are extremely essential while driving in the rains. It’s something you should certainly pay close attention to the next time you drive in wet weather.
Driving at reasonable speeds gives us ample time to react and make corrections to our trajectory to avoid sudden hazards on the road. Speed alerts on all new Hyundai cars are effective in reminding you to slow down, especially on wet roads. Many of us hate speed alerts, but in terms of sheer effectiveness, even if it is due to the annoying beeps, they do a great job at making us keep the pace in check.
Maintaining vehicular distance in the rains is as important as social distancing these days. It’s hard to predict the behaviour of the cars ahead of you. You never know when someone else will slam their brakes. Maintaining a few car lengths of distance allows ample time to react, a greater margin for error and enough safe space for your car to make corrections to its trajectory.
Aquaplaning occurs at high speeds when a layer of water builds up between the tyres faster than the weight of the car is able to displace it. Due to this thin water layer, you lose grip and the car slides out of control. If you find yourself aquaplaning, stay calm. Do not make sudden throttle or steering inputs and most definitely do not slam the brakes. Gently ease the throttle and allow the car to slow down itself. Moreover, if you drive a car that is in good shape at reasonable speeds, the risk of aquaplaning is greatly reduced.
If the conditions are dangerous and you are not comfortable driving, pulling over is the best solution. Wait until the weather improves before getting back on the road. It might add time to your travel but don’t forget that by pulling over, you are making the drive safer for yourself, your passengers and everyone else on the road.
Modern cars come with mind-boggling techno wizardry. Safety aids like airbags and ABS are standard and many Hyundai cars even offer class- leading safety systems like electronic stability control and traction control. With every new generation and every facelift, Hyundai cars have become better and safer, providing much-needed assurance, especially under low grip situations. Let’s understand how some key safety features work.
Under hard braking on slippery roads, cars without an anti-lock braking system tend to lock their wheels up. If the wheels are locked, you cannot steer the car and are no longer in control, leading you to potentially ram into the obstacle. ABS uses sophisticated components like speed sensors and brake control modules that prevent the wheels from locking up, making the car come to a halt in a progressive manner. This provides much-needed manoeuvrability under tricky situations. All Hyundai cars come with ABS as standard, right from entry-level offerings like the Santro to flagship SUVs like the Tucson.
Neither of the two cars we drove out of town had all-wheel drive, but Hyundai’s flagship SUV in India, the Tucson gets a permanent all-wheel-drive system. AWD is a prerequisite during off-roading, but the system can come to your rescue on the road too, especially in low grip situations. AWD systems use onboard sensors to distribute torque across all four wheels. If any tyre loses traction, the tyres that have grip pull the car forward.
Traction control ensures that extra torque doesn’t overwhelm the tyres with wheelspin. Powerful Hyundai cars, like the Tucson, get TC. This system uses onboard sensors to detect if one wheel is spinning faster than the others. When additional wheelspin is detected, TC cuts engine power to these wheels, allowing them to find traction. But due to lack of lateral acceleration sensors, TC’s functioning is restricted to a straight line, and that’s when ESC comes off as a more complete solution.
Electronic stability control
ESC alters the vehicle’s braking to individual wheels in split seconds for better control during evasive manoeuvres. For instance, when you enter a corner too fast and any of the wheels lose traction, ESC detects the loss of grip within a fraction of a second, momentarily braking the wheels without grip to restore control. The system uses a more extensive set of sensors that detect steering angle, lateral acceleration and yaw rate. All of Hyundai’s premium cars like the Creta, Verna, Venue and Elantra get this cutting-edge electronic aid.
Now that you know driving behind a rain splattered windshield doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience, your next step should be to ensure that you don’t ignore regular driving etiquette, always wearing a seat belt and following traffic rules. And once you’re fully prepped, you will realise that relishing the joys of the monsoon doesn't have to be from the comfort of your balcony only. You can head out, enjoy a picturesque drive and soak in all the tranquility that nature has to offer, through this magical season.