Those who live in Singapore would know that the weather here can be erratic – hot and sunny one moment and pouring rain in the next hour. Nothing can be worse for a motorcyclist who was sweating in his T-shirt and having to face stormy weather in the middle of his ride.
Riding in heavy rain is also more dangerous than usual. Reduced visibility, more distractions and slippery roads are just some of the hazards of riding in the rain. But you can’t just not ride when it rains, can you? So here are some safety tips to get you riding safer when it pours.
1. Seek out a rain shelter
When the rain comes unexpectedly in the middle of your riding journey, you might want to take a break if it is raining cats and dogs. While it isn’t uncommon for many motorcyclists to seek shelter by the road shoulder, it can be a dangerous practice. In fact, it is illegal as well! Motorists who stop on the shoulder are liable to a fine of up to $160 and four demerit points.
The answer is to look for a proper rain shelter.
In fact, the Land Transport Authority has increased the number of rain shelters along expressways for this reason. The shelters are marked in advance by umbrella signs and are also demarcated by vehicle impact guard rails or spring-loaded poles. At the shelters, motorists should stand behind the railing, face oncoming traffic and switch on hazard lights.
2. Gear up
While most motorcyclists will probably have their raincoat with them, many adopt the habit of putting them on only when it starts to pour. This can cause a “jam” at the rain shelters since most of them will stop at the same place to put on their raincoats.
If you see dark clouds and anticipate incoming rain, it is advised to put on your raincoat first. Other gears that you should put on includes an anti-fog face shield, water-resistant jackets and pants and waterproof riding gloves.
3. Routine checks for bikes
Imagine having your brake not work well on the roads. It’s already scary enough on dry roads… so we’ll let you think about the consequences of a malfunctioning brake on wet roads.
And it’s not just the brakes. Your tires need to be ready to channel water as well. Ensure that the pressure is suitable for your motorcycle.
Also ensure that there is no leakage of oil or brake fluid. An oil leak may not necessarily be a major safety issue in dry conditions but we can’t say the same for wet roads.
4. Be aware of wet-riding conditions
Wet roads can no doubt create dangerous situations for any motorcyclist. Often, wet roads consist of oils and other slippery residuals on the surface which can cause one to slide. It’d be good for you to be alert of the hazards that heavy rainfall can have on the road.
- Reduced Traction
Oils on the road and wet surfaces reduce the traction on your tires. The first hour of a heavy downpour is the most dangerous time to ride as the oils are raised to the surface of the road and have not been washed away. It’d be best for you to stop for a break and wait it out. Once the rain gets lighter, try to ride behind other vehicle’s tire tracks since they’d have already propelled some of the water away.
Hydroplaning occurs when a layer of water prevents direct contact between the tires and the road. To reduce your chances of hydroplaning, avoid riding on painted lines, manhole covers and more importantly, avoid rainbow-hued puddles. These contribute to reduced tire grip.
- Decreased Visibility
Even if you are wearing shield-helmets or goggles, having water dripping down the surface still reduces visibility. You might also not have a clear view of your mirrors. Not only that, other road-users would also face the same problem, making it dangerous for a motorcycle rider. Thus, ensure that you take your time, and also wear reflective or bright-coloured gear.
- Braking Distance
Since your tires have less traction on wet roads, your braking distance should be increased, especially at corners or while turning. It is also best to ride as vertical as possible so your tires have the best contact and can whisk away the most water through the treads in your tires. Take care not to apply too much brake to the front and allow the reduced application of the front brake to be compensated by adding more stopping distance.
It is not advised to ride when there is lightning. If everything is wet, including you, the rider, your tires aren’t going to insulate you from electricity travelling along the ground. Be safe rather than sorry!
Riding on wet and rainy conditions is also likely to increase the probability of road accidents. Make sure you’ve taken a good motorcycle insurance to provide you with adequate protection and help when needed! Find out more about our comprehensive motorcycle insurance and how we can give you the protection you need!