WITH the arrival of wet, wintery weather, IAM RoadSmart's head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman, has put together some crucial advice to help you drive safely in the rain.

"With the British weather the way it is, we should all be well practised at driving in the rain. Keeping your car maintained and the rubber (wipers and tyres) in good condition will help you stay safe," he says.

He goes on to advise that when heavy rain affects your visibility, take it slow. Your windscreen should be clean, wipers effective and the jets positioned correctly and aimed at the screen. It is sensible to clean the windscreen, make any necessary adjustments and remove anything from the main area before you start your journey.

A good rule of thumb is that if you need windscreen wipers, then you also need your headlights. Automatic light settings will not always activate in bad weather conditions, so it is up to you to make a sensible decision as to whether these need to be turned on.

If the water is standing in puddles on the road surface, your car is at risk of aquaplaning. Aquaplaning is where a wedge of water forms in front of the tyre and lifts it up off the road surface. This is caused by the tread not being able to displace the amount of water present.

To recover from aquaplaning, ease gently off your accelerator, have a firm grip of the steering wheel and be sure not to make any sudden steering actions. The car will eventually regain its grip as the water clears.

"In the recent extremes," continues Richard, "we have seen that standing water and floods are becoming more commonplace, so take extra care and if possible, avoid driving through standing water. If you're in any doubt about the depth or surface underneath a flood, then it's best not to take any chances."

He suggests to give yourself time to assess the depth before deciding what to do next. Are there other vehicles similar to yours that are safely driving through? If the water is fast flowing though, he advises that you do not attempt to drive through it, as there is a real danger of your car being swept off the road.

If you have taken everything into consideration and decide to drive through the flood, be sure to do so slowly. The best approach is to press lightly on your clutch and add gentle pressure on your accelerator to increase your engine revs. Do so without increasing your speed, in a similar way to how you would undertake a hill start.

If you are in an automatic car, accelerate slightly but control the speed with your brakes. When you have passed the flood, test your brakes to make sure they are dry and working properly.

Finally, Richard encourages drivers to avoid splashing pedestrians. If this is done even accidentally, you could receive a fixed penalty and three points on your license. If deliberately done, it could be a public order offence, a court appearance and a fine.