With heavy rainfall causing chaos on the roads, the South African Police Service has urged motorists to be cautious. Heavy rains and strong winds have gripped most parts of the country, causing damage in various provinces. Below are some safety tips to help you stay safe:
- Be especially careful when the rain first starts. When the roads are dry for a long period of time, engine oil and grease builds up on roads and highways. As soon as the first drops of rain start to fall, the water mixes with this build-up, making the roads incredibly slick.
- Slow down. You should always drive at a slower speed when the roads are wet. The faster you drive during a rainstorm, the more likely you are to have an accident. Leave the house earlier than usual to give yourself additional travel time so you won’t feel the urge to rush.
- Brake earlier and slower. When you need to slow down or stop on wet roads, ease on the brakes earlier and with less force than you normally would. This reduces the risk of hydroplaning (skidding); and keeps a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. It also alerts any drivers behind you to slow down. If you stop too suddenly, you could get rear-ended.
- Avoid big ‘puddles’. If you spot a huge puddle in the road up ahead, drive around it or take a different route. Depending on how deep the water is, it could even float your vehicle. If you aren’t sure just how deep a puddle is, steer clear of it altogether.
- Turn on your headlights. Even if just a few raindrops are falling, turn on your headlights. Not only will this help you see the road, but it will help other drivers see you. However, don’t use your high beams in the rain. This can actually reduce your visibility and blinds other drivers.
- Turn on your defroster. Your windshield can fog up quickly during a rainstorm, which can make you to lose sight of the road. Turn on your front and rear defrosters and the A/C to defog your windows.
- Keep an eye out for pedestrians. During a rainstorm, a pedestrian’s view of the road could be obscured by an umbrella – which means (s)he may accidentally step onto the road at the wrong time. If you are driving in a city or another area with pedestrians, keep a close eye out for people on the road.
- Pull over if the rainfall is too heavy. If the rain is falling so hard that you can barely see the vehicle in front of you, pull over and wait for the rain to slow down or stop. After all, it’s much better for you to make it to your destination a little late than not at all.
- Don’t brake if you hydroplane. If you feel your vehicle starting to skid, don’t brake suddenly or turn the steering wheel. This could send you into a skid. Instead, ease off the gas pedal slowly and steer straight until you feel your tyres regain traction. If you have to brake and don’t have anti-lock brakes, tap the brake pedal lightly. If you do have anti-lock brakes, you can brake normally. – SAnews.gov.za