The autumn has brought wet weather across parts of the country this week. Rainy conditions are directly associated with slower traffic, higher accident rates, and car breakdowns. We look at the ways motorists should handle heavy rain and flooded roads in South Africa in order to reach their destination safely.
- Double check your vehicle’s equipment to make sure it is in full working condition
Even a small problem encountered in wet weather might become pretty big. Check if the headlights, tail lights, and windshield wipers are working properly. Look at the tread of your vehicle’s tyres to decide whether they are going to offer good road holding. Check your oil and water, and inspect any other functions like the brakes, which could potentially slow you down. Finally, ensure your tank has enough fuel for the journey.
- Charge your cellphone in advance
Avoid driving in wet weather without fully charged phone, as you risk being stranded if your vehicle breaks down. There should always be a way to contact your car insurance, towing service or emergency contact.
- Turn on your headlights
This simple measure will increase both your own visibility and other drivers’ ability to see your car on the road. So turn on your vehicle lights while driving even in light rain.
- Ventilate your car
During rain, the humidity levels increase. This might cause your car windows to become foggy. It may be necessary to pull over if your ventilation system can’t fight this kind of fog and you are no longer able to see through your windows.
- Stay vigilant while on the road
Some motorists drive too slow, others too fast, don’t let it distract you. Make sure you keep your eyes locked around your car to have better judgement about how to react to dangerous situations on the road before they happen. Concentrate on the road, not on anything else, such as electronic devices. Turn the volume of the radio down or turn it off.
- Slow down
Not only should you adhere to the posted speed limit when driving in wet weather conditions, you should also drive quite slower than you normally would. Reduced speed is imperative. Remember, your vehicle’s reaction time is much slower when it is raining, so it is better to keep a greater distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you.
- Avoid heavy breaking
Try to slow your vehicle by taking your foot off the accelerator earlier than you normally would in preparation to slow down or stop. Always change to a lower gear before you take a bend, especially a sharp bend. Your speed should be at its slowest as you enter the bend and both your hands should be on the steering wheel. This slow in/fast out technique gives you most control when driving around a bend. If you haven’t used brakes for a while, gently apply them to dry them first.
- Know and find alternate routes
Avoid areas prone to flooding. It could save you time and stress to take an alternate route that can be found with the help of modern GPS navigation applications. If you do come across a section of road with fast flowing water rather turn around or pull over if you can safely do so. Remember, it only takes 15cm of water to lift a car off the tar.
- In case of hydroplaning
Hydroplaning is one of the most common car accidents in the rain. It is usually caused by driving through standing water. If you lose traction and skid across the surface of the road, calmly take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction that the front of your car needs to go. Avoid making sudden turns. Never brake.
Employ these safety precautions, they can save your life and the life of your passengers and other motorists.