Why Do Most People Drive at The Speed Limit in Wet Conditions?

I live in metro Melbourne and rarely drive in regional areas.

Today, I was driving on the Hume Freeway, and the rain was significant at times. Even though I felt it is quite unsafe to drive at the normal speed (110km/h), most drivers seemed to care less. I felt that I might lose grip. I ended up driving around 95-100km/h on the left lane to see vehicles piling behind me before overtaking.

What would you do in these conditions?

Poll Options

  • 817
    Drive at the normal speed
  • 282
    Drive 10-15 km/h slower
  • 43
    Drive 10-15km/h faster

Comments

  • +1

    Its not the speed, but the spacing between cars that should matter.

  • +3

    It depends on the conditions.

    Raining = normal speed, lights on. Most road tyres have been developed so the water is displaced outwards by the tread.
    Torrential rain causing visibility issues = reduce speed, lights on
    Fog but no rain = reduce speed if causing visibility issues, fog lights on
    Massive pools of water on the road = reduce speed

    As mokr mentions above, keep a greater (safer) distance from the cars ahead. If that means reducing your speed to theirs, do so.

    Remember to keep left unless overtaking. Overtake only when safe to do so.

  • Speed in rain is highly dependent on the car you are driving, the conditions of tyres, windscreen and wiper conditions. Same on windy mountain roads or gravel roads, some cars are just a lot more suitable and feel (not necessarily are!) a lot safer. Now that I am driving a better car I notice I overtake cars in the rain and get stuck behind slow drivers in the mountains, whereas when I drove a 1989 Hyundai Excel 15 years ago I always felt like I was pushed and hurried along by much faster traffic, and my driving skills or attitude have not much changed. So it greatly depends on what you are driving… and yes, DO NOT USE LOCKED 4WD on wet sealed roads :)

  • +6

    I drive faster so my car doesn't get as wet.

  • +1

    "I live in metro Melbourne and rarely drive in regional areas"
    "mine is a MY08 Mitsubishi Outlander with 4x4. I was on 4wd mode."
    " I was on 4WD-lock (full time 4WD) and was using cruise"
    "I've been driving on and off for around 10 years (used public transport and bike mainly for getting around). Not many experiences in the wet, specially on highways"

    The above are statements from OP.
    I support driving at a reduced speed limit when the conditions warrant it (it sounds like it did), but driving in 4WD, with cruise control on, on a freeway, suggests that OP should do a defensive driving course to better understand what they should be doing.
    And why have a 4WD?

    • Maybe read this

      It is an excerpt from a Mitsubishi artlice but the link is broken now due to age.

      Drive Mode: 4WD Lock
      Overview of Control: Delivers 1.5 times more torque to the rear wheels than 4WD mode
      Benefit: Increases off-the-line traction; provides greater high-speed stability

      • A great feature to have on a vehicle driven predominately in the dry, in metro Melbourne.

  • +3

    I'll preface this with "I generally drive fast in most conditions"…
    However, in wet weather, I drive at the limit (or perhaps a little over) BUT keep a safer/longer distance from the car in front of me.
    I note others, in Melbourne, who leave a shorter gap and drive like they would in dry conditions (ie. sudden lane changes - don't care about the car behind when making sudden brakes, especially trucks) - that is a mistake as if there was an emergency brake then they'd careen into the rear of the car in front or be hit by the one behind them.
    There's lots of minor bingles like that and I'd prefer not to be involved.
    I think I'm a safe driver but everyone thinks that - I am used to drifting so think I can swerve out of trouble but agree there are lots of idiots out there who think their car &/or tyres gives them freedom to drive like they would normally — which isn't the case.

    • Completely agree with you mate. I don't understand people who knock 20km/h off their speed because it's raining, and then sit a car length away from the car in front (especially if visibility is down).

      • +1

        Perhaps if they've knocked 20 off, and still be one car length behind the guy in front, they're being slowed down by the guy in front?

        Not to say they shouldn't increase their following distance…

  • DrIve at normal speed, just bigger gap in case.

  • +5

    The poll is all wrong.

    It 100% depends on how wet the conditions are.

  • +11

    I find it ironic that when it's raining, the slow drivers who think they're being safer, never have their lights on.

    • In fact, in certain conditions the hazard lights also should come on (ie foggy)

      • -1

        No. From the VicRoads site:

        Hazard warning lights can only be used when your vehicle is:
        Stopped and obstructing, or likely to block other vehicles or pedestrians
        Moving slowly and obstructing, or likely to block other vehicles or pedestrians
        Stopped in an emergency stopping lane
        Stopped to sell a product that may attract children onto the road (such as ice creams)
        A bus carrying children, and the driver stops to pick up or drop off a child (see regulation 31(5) of the Transport (Passenger Vehicles) Regulations 2005)
        Operating the hazard warning lights as part of anti-theft or alcohol interlock devices.
        See rule 221 of the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017.

        • +3

          https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/safety-and-road-rules/driver...

          In fog or snowy conditions, use fog lights instead of setting your headlights on high beam, if you don’t have fog lights you can use your hazard lights with your headlights on low beam.

          I drive a lot in these conditions since I do enjoy snowsports, and I did bother myself with the rules….

          • @CMH: Fair enough, but those suggestions to assist in driving seem to contradict Rule 221.
            I imagine the police will apply the rule as they see fit, hopefully applying some common sense along the way.

            • +2

              @GG57: Perhaps because it satisfies this condition?

              Moving slowly and obstructing, or likely to block other vehicles or pedestrians

    • +4

      the slow drivers who think they're being safer, never have their lights on.

      And hit the brakes every few seconds for no reason!

  • +1

    Weird, i have the opposite experience. It's an 80 zone and everyone is going 50

  • If the road ahead is relatively clear, straight, no pooling and your vehicle has decent tyres on then there's very little loss of grip by sticking to the speed limit like it was dry

    Watching Formula 1 cars on a straight still going at 300km/h on a straight in such conditions tells me it's fine if it meets those conditions

    • +1

      Watching Formula 1 cars on a straight still going at 300km/h on a straight in such conditions tells me it's fine if it meets those conditions

      😂🤦‍♂️

      • I slow down okay! ;)

  • +3

    if you are uncertain about the conditions, your cars ability or your driving skills - then drive slower, keep left, and don't worry about what anyone else is doing

  • +3

    After experiencing aquaplaning at speed on a wet road, the on-the-speed-limit drivers might rethink their strategy (if they survive). You should definitely moderate speed on wet roads, especially if water is pooling. How much moderation depends on road surface, visibility, water washing over or pooling on road, wind, etc, and (importantly) how other drivers are responding (they might aquaplane into you)

  • Dual cabs are definitely not stable in rain as the rear is very light and front heavy. Will spin out easily in wet.

  • I usually stick to the speed limit unless the visibility and road conditions are bad.

  • A few months ago I was in a mates car driving along a main road as a massive amount of rain hit. It hit so hard that there was a thick mist rising above the road, over half the hight of a standard car. He put the front and rear fog lights on and dropped speed by 20kmph.

    The three cars ahead of us (that were only visible when we got close to them) had no lights on at all. Three cars, in a row, no lights.

    (profanity) gonna dick..

    • +5

      Its just a fact that wet conditions deteriorate car performance including increasing braking distances. Drive to the conditions.

      • +2

        Higher braking distance = keep a bigger distance from the car in front.

        Not the same as driving slow.

        Try again.

        • +1

          Try again. Been to too many accidents where big brave over confident boys don't drive to the conditions only to be involved in major collisions that change the lives of themselves and others forever. Nothing like telling someone they are never going to walk again . Drive to the conditions and respect other road users and you cant go wrong. Increasing your safe braking distance where you experience loss of control wont stop you from hitting an immovable object. KISS F=MA.

          • +1

            @oO0Dam0Oo: Drive to the conditions: tick.

            Increasing safe braking distance doesn't help with loss of control: tick.

            My point is know why you're doing something. Just saying "go slow because braking distance" makes no sense. You should have the appropriate distance for whatever driving speed you're doing. Go slow because there are other hazards such as water pooling causing your vehicle to hydroplane.

        • It does. If you have to keep a higher distance, less cars will be able to go through a road. Reduce speed = reduce distance = increase density of cars going through = more cars going through.

          This is obviously never seen, as on highways, nobody keeps the correct distance, and relies that the car in front does not have to brake.

          I am very convinced that at any time, if I were to ( I never will ) come to a full stop on a busy highway, I certainly will cause an accident. Where in a perfect world, it should not.

      • What the law does not account for is for incline of the road. Going down a road, increases the braking length, but the speed limit is the same for up or down.

  • +1

    Never forget driving down the Calder freeway Vic driving @ 90-100km/hr (110KM/hr limit) in pouring rain. Aquaplaned in a Kia Carnival. One minute I was driving straight, next I was facing the barriers on a slight angle before it corrected and I changed my jocks. Water tends to pool and cause lift in these lower seated vehicles. Calder is also a terrible Fwy for water pooling.

    • +1

      ha…just read your comment after posting. not a fan of aqua-planing myself so i always drive to conditions
      mine was on the princes hwy @ 70kmh decades ago but i'll never forget how scary that sensation was

    • A couple of years ago I was driving down a single lane hwy in the country with my 3 young boys in the back and it was bucketing down. I was doing just under the speed limit as the road was pretty straight and there weren't many cars on the road. Then I hit a big puddle of water and I lost all traction. My car swerved all over the road, across both lanes, 2 or 3 times before I managed to regain control.
      I think the things that saved us were:
      1. I was driving an AWD (Subaru XV) with relatively new tyres
      2. I knew to keep the steering wheel straight, and not try to correct the car by steering in the opposite direction, and
      3.There were no cars around me, especially coming from the opposite direction.
      I had never been so scared in my life, especially since I had my kids in the car. The little sh*ts were laughing cos they thought I did it on purpose for fun.

  • its all good until you start aqua-planing!

    • An then it's excellent?

      • then its brown pants time!

        • +1

          Should've seen the worst driving conditions I've ever driven in.

          Coming down Mt Hotham, road was covered in ice. Not slush, but hard ice. Wheel chains on the front, crunching through the ice as I barely rolled downhill; not much faster than what you'd be able to walk normally. Even then, the car is blaring all sorts of alarms at me, the ABS causing all sorts of shuddering even while not on full brakes, the ESC alarm screaming trying to warn me that I've got no traction…. Every light was going on-and-off automatically, as cars usually do when they think you're about to crash (I've seen this happen on a friend's GTI), pre-tensioners were on… Basically every safety feature you can find in a car was going off.

          They really should've closed the road at that moment.

          Aqua planing really has nothing on this moment.

          10/10 more adrenaline rush than skiing.

    • +3

      It does actually not take much to aqua-plan. I was driving north to hornsby on Pacific Highway, and hit a water puddle. The car locked the steering of the wheels for a fraction of a seconds, till the tires got grip again

  • I drive around at the speed limit on a big lowered/modified BMW X5 on 22" wheels and 325 wide grippy tires. Feels fine, lots of grip, drive at the speed limit no worries.

    • +1

      People who 'lower' 4wd's… -_-

      • It's an AWD actually :P

        • 2WD with the other 2 wheels part time.

          Plus would be road tires on the X5. Just a jacked up 5 series not really a 4WD or SUV by any stretch of the imagination.

  • +1

    I will drive at the speed limit where possible, but I will adjust how much distance I leave between the car ahead of me and myself because wet braking distances obviously are not the same.

    This is because of 1. very high quality tires and 2. a good understanding of what my car can and cannot do.

    When I've hired a rental (usually ends up being a POS with cheap tires) the driving style is much different in the wet…

  • +4

    I don't care whether you are fast or slow.

    Turn your headlights on.

  • I might ask an additional question related to rain: Why don't people turn on their lights when it's raining ?
    It's pretty hard to see a grey car in the back mirror if the lights of that car are not on, when it's raining.

    Some countries made it mandatory for the lights of the car to be on, at all times.

    • Why don't people turn on their lights when it's raining ?

      My dad always does this and his reasoning is "I can see the road and other cars fine". It's infuriating.

      I always turn my lights on in low light, pouring or foggy conditions. If other cars are considerate by turning their lights on to increase visibility, I will too.

    • Combination of DRLs with headlight switches always on "auto"?

  • Crazy Sunday driving in Brisbane with very very low road visibility there were plenty of cars doing 100 and also tailgating I was well in the left lane doing about 90 as the highway had pretty poor drainage. but I guess if you can do 100 and crash I'll keep driving past.

  • I think it might be an age related thing. Older people remember how bad tyres used to be in the wet and expect them to let go without warning any second.
    Younger people might have only driven on good modern tyres with traction control, and not even realise they have less grip in the wet, since you have to be doing something out of the ordinary to get good tyres to let go in the wet these days. (Not saying they don't have less grip in the wet, just that it only becomes apparent in an emergency or cornering harder than most people regularly do, so you can be oblivious of it until it really matters).

    • Younger people might have only driven on good modern tyres with traction control, and not even realise they have less grip in the wet, since you have to be doing something out of the ordinary to get good tyres to let go in the wet these days.

      Just hope they don't get to be a first time sucker.

  • Always slow down in wet weather and turn your lights on. Especially when its heavy rain or foggy. It's like people you see who driving up close to your rear and want to pass a person sticking to the speed limit. When you physically can't and are not alowed by law to driver any faster.

  • +5

    Depressing how many people here think slowing down in the wet is for bad drivers who are much worse than them. Dunning-Kruger personified.

  • -3

    I drive at the legal speed limit because I know my abilities, I also know what my car can and cannot do. Not having crappy tyres plays a big role in this. I have RE003's which are far superior to your standard Bob Jane all rounder on 80% of cars out there.

    • You like your car wrapped around a tree ? You must, with such a comment

      I also know what my car can and cannot do

      Obviously your car cant do aqua-planing. Luck you, where did you get your car from. Does it have "No aqua-planing warranty ?"

      if you have "Bridgestone Potenza Adrenalin RE003 Tyre" then you are not really equipped well to drive in the wet. Profile is horrible for wet weather. Description confirms it: Powerful traction in dry conditions. Interesting that at the same time "improved drainage and anti-hydroplaning performance". Which is it ?

      Description of tires "Bridgestone Potenza Adrenalin RE003 delivers precision, handling and maximum control." is directed at V6/V8 Ute drivers, male, aged between 19 and 25.

    • @HeXo I have RE003s on my AWD Sports Car and they are decent in the wet but not the best mid-corner or during fast transitions.

      I regret not buying the Michelin PS4 but could not afford the extra $500 at the time so compromises had to be made.

    • RE003s have nothing on PS4s or PS4Ss in term of grip and stopping distance though.

      Try them out next time you need new tyres

  • +2

    The most dangerous time on the roads is not either when its dry or when its raining. It is when it has been dry for a while and it has just started raining. In that circumstance there is a slippery layer or oil and/or dust on the road and grip is least. Once there's been enough ran to wash that film away grip returns to close to what it is in the dry. Except for when there is actually standing water on the road and at the speed you are doing your tyres can't pump it away fast enough and you aquaplane.

  • Speed limits in most places are already more than low enough. Unless it's a windy road or something where you'd obviously take corners more conservatively there's no need to go slower than the marked speed limit (which probably took wet weather into account when it was set in the first place).

    • +1

      Speed limits of 100 on bendy, non fenced roads. And 110 on highways ?

      I would prefer having highways ( 3 lanes ) @130kmh, 2 lanes @120kmh and non highway roads between towns @80kmh.
      Main roads in city at [email protected] and residential roads @30 kmh.

  • The ones driving large amounts slower than the speed limit are the ones causing dangerous conditions. People naturally drive at a speed where they feel safe, so perhaps consider that if so many are flying past you, then you're the problem? If you don't feel capable of doing the speed limit in the rain, go buy better tyres and book a driver training course.

  • I have a sporty-ish sedan, with relatively wide Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, performs unbelievably well in the wet, I dont know if I've lost traction once in 3 years, compared to my last car which was a ~2000's mazda 626 with cheapo (and not very wide) tyres, I'd lose traction taking off at a normal speed at the traffic lights - it was a liability…

    So the build of a car (in terms of its handling characters), and more importantly, the width and quality of tyres, make a night and day difference in wet driving. This may explain your observation of why some drivers feel more confident than others.

  • Even though I felt it is quite unsafe to drive at the normal speed (110km/h), most drivers seemed to care less.

    Most often then not, Drivers drive over limit during rain than if it was not raining. May be that just me that observed it.

  • Firstly, speed limits are determined to be safe for bad conditions (eg night, wet, etc).

    Secondly, the speed limit in Australia is very conservative by global standards. For example, highways in Europe are 130 km/h.

    So in normal rain (not extreme weather with water pooled on the road) then driving at the designated speed limit is appropriate (of course, assuming your car is in good condition with roadworthy tyres).

    • I agree with you, though I assume OP is referencing the deluge we've experienced over the past few days. I've seen some people driving their shit boxes like lunatics in my heavily populated neighbourhood with a lot of pedestrian activity (said pedestrians often don't have much brain activity, don't look up from their phones and don't even abide by road/path rules either).

  • I do the speed that everyone around me is doing. Seems like the safest option to me

  • +1

    If the speed limit is 40 and you have a modern car with quality tyres, I see no issue in sticking to 40
    .

  • +1

    That's a speed limit not a target :)

  • +3

    As a professional driver once said

    "few people actually drive to their car and tyres capabilities in the dry…and far too many people drive well beyond them in the wet"

    I drive to the conditions, anyone else who wants to tailgate me can do so at their own peril.

  • Get some decent wet weather performing tyres, will definitely give you better confidence in the rain.
    Many years ago I was on the freeway and the tyres were half worn, not bald but it felt so unsafe, it was like ice skating. Scary stuff, aquaplaning
    .

  • +1

    Drive to the road conditions, car conditions, and visibility.
    Good tyres make a very big difference, not new tyres but good ones. High performance road (not semi slick) tyres cost twice as much, wear out quicker and give you worse fuel economy than the fuel efficient rock hard tyres, but they grip much much better in all conditions. Then having a fresh pair of wipers and a window treated with rain X or similar will help with visibility.
    After that is a matter of how far you can see in front of you for road hazards, pooling water, and other drivers.

  • I used to have an all wheel drive Vw Golf R, that thing in the wet, drove like it was a 30 degree summer day. There was literally no loss of traction, even when the tyres were borderline on being due for replacement, at full throttle, it didnt lose traction one day. Having a vehicle that you know can handle the conditions gives you so much confidence.

    On the other hand, ive driven a rear wheel drive commodore with cheap ching chong tyres that slipped and slid around like it had plastic toy car wheels, that was scary.

  • -2

    turn on hazard lights and reduce to 90km/h or below, who cares

  • Roads are designed with wet speeds in mind. If they weren’t there would be a lot more accidents in the wet. Also my Audi Q7 in wet weather stops on a tack so not too sure what the whole 4 wheel drive suv thing is about in this thread

    • someone negged you, i upvoted you back. Op has a rubbish entry level Mitsubishi 4wd. You have a high end euro one, big difference between how they handle.

  • +5

    for (profanity) sake
    this thread shows why the road toll is so high
    it shows why i miss too many people who died in car accidents

  • +10

    No offenses but I lived in five different countries. Australians are terrible with tail gating and driving too fast.

    • -2

      I believe its mostly due to our speed limits being based on vehicles from the 1970's. Modern day drivers are just frustrated with having to drive so stupidly slow for no reason. School zones etc are ok, but being limited to 100 on a major freeway, might as well get out and walk.

  • +4

    For the same reason we (sadly) have to have speed limits in the first place; a not insignificant portion of society are idiots who won't drive in a manner commensurate with the conditions of the road and their skill level.

  • +4

    In case anyone missed it from previous comments PUT YOUR HEADLIGHTS ON IN THE TORRENTIAL RAIN.

    Had a grey car coming toward me this morning, on the wrong side of the road, no headlights on, through standing water on the road, with belting rain. Idiots.

  • -1

    Oh goodie another car post full of the usual “don’t drive too slow” and “keep left ALWAYS on EVERY road AT every speed limit” (ie. they don’t know the road rules) future Darwin award nominees.

  • +2

    When it comes to wet weather drive to the conditions and turn on your headlights. Not be like the idiots who drive through flooded roads and think there invincible.

    Watching Aussie dash cam footage on YouTube shows just how many morons there actually are on our roads. No idea how they passed there driving test and got a licence.

    • the funniest / scariest ones are when the footage comes FROM someone breaking the rules and driving badly. i guess they have so little idea they have submitted incriminating video of themselves!

  • +3

    Quite simply, if the visibility is poor you should be driving slower. Its almost as if a lot of people view the speed limit as the legal minimum.

  • You drive to the conditions. Your "list" does not include this option.

    If you are in hail, or teeming rain, what do you think?

  • +2

    Actually the road authorities have been reviewing the speed limits for years. They introduced safe system principles. Will take years to actually adjust the speed limits and other things.

    Basically it is based on fatality rates / survival rates. Based on the crash database that authorities have.
    Government pushing 0 fatality ads for a while now.

    The Safe System principles:
    People make mistakes that can lead to road crashes.
    The human body has a limited physical ability to tolerate crash forces before harm occurs.
    A shared responsibility to prevent crashes resulting in serious injury or death.
    All parts of the system must be strengthened to multiply their effects.

    https://www.rsc.wa.gov.au/Safe-System

    Basically reduce the speed limit so when a crash occurs the survival rate will be high enough.
    Pedestrian-car – 30km/h
    Car- roadside object – 50km/h
    Cars head on – 70km/h
    Cars side crash – 50km/h

    There is a signalized intersection in Perth where I live where the right turn filter movement was removed as the road has 70km/h limit and there were a lot of crashes where drivers turned in front of the oncoming vehicles. Side crash has 50kmh for good survival rate so you either reduce the speed limit to 50km/h on that road or remove the right turn filter (green light with no arrow) movement. So now it has a green arrow, no filtering, less crash and longer red light for everybody obviously.

  • +2

    Can't agree more. I grew up in Germany. Autobahn at 180-200km/h is fine in dry condition … but in heavy rain you slow down to 60-80km/h … even further when necessary. Lights on in rain. Minimum profile on tyres is 4mm !!! Any lower is illegal and unsafe.

  • -2

    Not everybody drives a 1980 corolla with 185 wide tyres… I have a modern AWD car with huge brakes, wide grippy tyres all round (245 width), and all kinds of electronic traction assist systems in place. It's not an issue to maintain the speed limit on dry tarmac, dirt, snow, heavy rain, or even grass…

    • +2

      3 ozmorons with clapped out 1980's corollas just negged you

  • -2

    Really? Most people seem to drive stupidly slow in the slightest of wet conditions.

  • unless i'm on a highway i don't go over 80km/h in the wet and i slow down more than usual going around bends

  • Yay another road rules thread where people rationalise that all our rules and penalties were designed with our best interest at heart so that we are protected from those idiots on the road.

  • +3

    "Why Do Most People Drive at The Speed Limit in Wet Conditions?"

    To see if they crash.

    • +3

      And get on dashcam Youtube videos.

  • Drive at the normal speed limit mate.

  • +2

    lol someone is negging any comment that says to just drive at the limit.

    I'm sick of people who drive slow on the freeway AND don't bother keeping to the left lane. You care about safety? Follow the rules which includes that so people don't have to constantly change lanes especially in wetter weather. Ironically sometimes when it's a bit busy with many slower drivers, these people still don't seem to leave enough room infront of them anyway.

    That said 95-100 doesn't sound too slow. The crawlers I have to go around you'd be lucky to get 95.

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