Driving through western ghats during monsoon is not for the faint hearted – you will have to drive through downpours, near zero visibility and slippery roads. If you are planning to drive from Bangalore to Goa during rain, follow some of the basic checks mentioned below to have a safe journey.

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NH4 - Drive from Bangalore to Goa during Monsoon
Dark clouds looming over NH4 en-route to Hubli

Over the past few years I have driven to Goa from Bangalore during the monsoon season couple of times. Driving on wet roads with heavy downpour is always a challenge for any driver. Seldom will you fnd someone who is more comfortable driving in wet conditions, well unless you are the “rain master” Michael Schumacher :). So here are some of the tips that will help you if you are driving to Goa during monsoon.

  • Tyres: Ensure that your tyres are in good condition. If the treads are worn out, it would be a good idea to get them replaced. Grip on the road is critical when one is driving through slippery ghat roads during monsoon. Shelling out those extra bucks and having a new set of tyres would make it that much more safer to drive through heavy rains
  • Brakes: check with the service centre about the condition of your brakes. If they suggest a change do not hesitate to replace them. Braking under wet conditions is always a challenge and it is better to have a new set of brakes.
  •  Evaluate your braking distance: Under wet conditions, the car takes more time to come to an half after you apply the brakes. Evaluate your braking distance and change your driving style accordingly. I mean, reduce your cruising speed, maintaining more distance between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • Wipers: Wipers are usually neglected and somehow overlooked during servicing. This is one of the parts in the car that we tend to give least importance and it would be a bad idea if you overlook them during a monsoon drive. Even with a new set of wipers, I was struggling to drive through heavy rain (heavy rain in western ghats are like cloud bursts).
  • Ensure that your spare tyre is also in good condition – you never know when you might have to rely on them. Inflate them to the right pressure and check for leakages before starting your drive.
  • Drive slowly when the downpour is very heavy – you are not going to gain much by reaching your destination early.
  • Reduce your speed when you notice a puddle of stagnant water. At high speeds, these puddles have a tendency to put your car off balance. Worst case if you hit a puddle at high speed, ensure that you are driving straight through it. You loose control when you try to steer through it.
  • Never cross water which is flowing if you cannot figure out how deep it is. Even a harmless looking stream of water can carry you off track. The last thing that you want is your car to start floating and you helplessly becoming a passenger in your own car.
  • If you have to wade through water which is a foot high, put your car in a low gear and Rev up your engine. This would avoid stalling of the vehicle.
  • Turn on your headlights or fog lights so that on coming vehicles can easily spot you. Also it is a good idea to have the blinkers ON during heavy rain so that the vehicle coming from behind can easily spot you
  • Avoid driving close to trucks and buses as the visibility decreased dramatically due to the spray of water coming out from these vehicles
  • Plan your drive. Start early from Bangalore, ensure that you are reaching Hubli by around 10 AM. This would mean that you will be driving through the ghats by noon. Visibility increases as the day progresses and is the best from 11AM to 3PM. Post that the visibility starts to reduce as the dark clouds start to roll in. Also, know your limits as a driver. If you are not someone who can drive at a stretch for hours, take those vital coffee breaks to ensure that you are fresh while driving through the ghats. I had mentioned in my other post that there are not many eating joints after crossing Hubli, but you will find many road side hotels serving hot beverages. Do not hesitate to take those pit-stops.

Last but not the least, drive at a pace that you are comfortable with. Generally it is suggested that you drive few kilometres slower than the speed limits during rain. You might be a bit late in reaching your destination, but most likely would have had a comfortable drive.

 

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