How to deal with hazards during your journey
As a driver, every once in a while we’ll find ourselves driving in horrendous conditions. One where you get home saying “sheeesh, THAT was an absolute nightmare journey.” Whether it was torrential rain making it impossible to see in front of you, road works causing complete gridlock or your Waze app taking you down a one-way country road built for horses and pedestrians.
Luckily, these don’t happen often, as we tend to drive the same familiar routes every day. But recently I experienced a journey so crammed full of hazards, that I just had to share it with the ingenie driving community. So here’s EVERYTHING I came across during (what should have been) my 35 minute drive home: an experience I hope you don't have to endure.
It was rush hour obviously, and so my traffic app decided to take me down a route I wasn’t familiar with. Country roads are beautiful in spring, but during the winter months they're pretty harrowing to drive down.
Twists and turns and sharp corners that in daylight wouldn't be a problem to master, but in pitch black opaque darkness are a different story. So that was hazard number one to contend with.
How to deal with country roads: take it slowly, and use your lights correctly. You might know the roads well but in darkness, anything can come as a surprise so take your time and stay calm.
Demisters and fog
When it's SO cold and SO foggy outside your windscreen takes forever to demist - we've all been there. My little Yaris has never packed a powerful punch when it comes to chucking out heat, but in the winter when you're mainly driving in fog (and when you need it most, funnily enough) it struggles. So as well as trying to fully concentrate on the road ahead, I had to fiddle with the heating dials to try and get the best windscreen clearing result.
How to deal with in-car distractions: make sure you're more than familiar with all your cars buttons, controls and levers. If you're not use to driving in bad weather, don't let that be the first time you need a refresher.
It had been raining NON STOP during the day, so I knew the roads were going to be pretty wet. But this...this was like driving through an olympic-sized swimming pool. The trouble with rain on country roads is unlike wider roads, you can't escape the puddles.
These puddles were SO enormous I had to creep around onto the other side of the road to try and get round them, while making sure no cars were coming towards me. Although the water was shallow, it had flooded across the whole road. Not cool.
How to deal with floods: Don't drive through flood water at the same time as oncoming traffic. If you see a car coming towards you, slow right down, and they'll do the same so you can get round each other. As soon as you're out of the water on flat road, test your brakes gently.
In hazardous driving situations it would be nice to think that all drivers on the road were of the same sensible mindset as you - but sadly that's not always the case with tailgaters around.
Halfway into this pretty scary drive home, a 4x4 vehicle decided to drive wayyyyyyy too close to my boot, which in normal road conditions would have been annoying but on pitch black country roads that has flooded in parts - just plain dangerous.
How to deal with tailgaters: Don't speed up because the driver behind is pressuring you - they'll probably just speed up and close the gap again, which is more dangerous. Try to focus on the road ahead and if they want to zoom passed you at the first opportunity - let them. Don't let road bullies affect how you drive.
Part of having a huge vehicle tailgating you when you're a tiny hatchback, is you get the added joy of their blinding LED headlights blaring into your car, reflecting off your mirrors like a spaceship is landing on the roof.
I suffer with pretty bad travel sickness so the beams of light darting around was not only distracting but also making me want to put my head between my knees. Not recommended while driving.
How to deal with bright lights: Try to look slightly away from other car lights, focusing on the road markings to guide you. If a driver behind has their full beams on, adjust your rearview mirror to minimise distraction.
Oh - and did I mention it was rushhour too? So there were also 20 other cars all trying to get down the same road experiencing the exact same hazards as me.
How to deal with rush hour: When everyone is trying to get where they need to be in the quickest time possible, the best thing you can do is plan several routes. If it's a regular journey you make - have a few 'back up' routes mapped out BEFORE you leave.
After surviving the first 10 minutes of this journey (only 10 minutes in?! I know!) all cars on the road suddenly came to a standstill. Looking further up the road I could see there had been some roadworks taking place and temporary traffic lights were being used, letting about 4 cars over at a time.
Wonderful. Sitting and waiting in a stuffy, travel sicky car is my favourite hobby.
Horse and rider
What would make this already ridiculous situation even more ridiculous? I know, a horse... and a rider... trying to get across a flooded road, during roadworks, in the pitch black of a country road? Yep, got it in one.
When it was my turn to pull away, a rider (with no high vis jacket) wanted to get across with her GIANT shire horse at the set of temporary traffic lights. One word: chaos.
Obviously I let the rider cross, only to hear a cacophony of beeping from car's behind who couldn't see the horse but must have assumed I'd stopped at the lights to open up a flask of hot cocoa.
At this point, a vein on my forehead started to become quite prominent. Must. Get. Home.
How to deal with animals on the road: Pass slow and wide. Animals are unpredictable and are easily spooked - especially horses. If it's cold, dark, wet and windy, help the rider and their horse get back to the stable safely and calmly by reducing your speed and being a considerate driver.
Lorries and big vehicles
When I'd finally been spat out the end of the country lane and onto slightly wider ground, along came an ENORMOUS delivery truck, trying to complete a turn in the road, as he'd missed his turning right before a roundabout.
All I could do at this point was to slow down, come to a stop, put my handbrake on... and shake my head in disbelief as this beast of a vehicle bent in half to try and turn back around - holding up the roundabout traffic in the process.
How to deal with big vehicles: If a tall vehicle is making you feel a bit nervous, keep your distance. Your instinct could be right and as the driver will have restricted view of you - it's best to stay clear and give them space to manoeuvre.
So. How long did my usual 35 minute journey take after all that? One hour 20 minutes. Of my life that I'll never get back. To drive 7 miles. Breathe.
Well that's just about covered all potential country hazards, but how do you feel about built-up areas? Here's how to deal with town driving.
Katey Joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of all things social and content. She passed her driving test in 2015 and her first car is a Toyota Yaris T3 named Tyrone.