Reset brain to 'rain mode' in the wet

Industry news

Johannesburg - Driving in wet weather requires caution and motorists should adapt their driving habits to ensure their safety on the road while the slippery summer-rainfall conditions continue.

John October from Dial Direct Insurance deals with the consequences every day.

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Traffic meltdown at the Glenhove off ramp leading out og Johannesburg. Johannesburg woke up to a heavy downpour of rain this morning causing isolated incidents of traffic congestion.

Picture: Antoine de Ras, 31/01/2014530


Traffic caused by rain in parts of Johannesburg, Gauteng.

Picture: Motlabana MonnakgotlaSpray from other vehicles significantly reduces visibility.

"Dusty Gauteng roads become slick and slippery when it rains," he warned, "so drivers need to adapt their driving style, speed, following distance, the settings on their vehicle, and be prepared for emergency situations.

"It's also important to ensure that your car's all-round condition is good enough to perform effectively in bad weather."

He conceded that negotiating heavy traffic at a snail's pace on slick roads as rain pummels your car can be a test of endurance - but urged commuters to be patient and take it easy.

Expect delays on the road during poor weather and be ready for them."

"Try to be patient and allow extra travel time,” he advised. “It also helps to listen to the traffic report on a regional radio station for updates on floods and vehicle accidents affecting the roads

“If your route is affected, find an alternate route or stay put until it's safe."

He offered the following wet-weather driving tips:

1 Always turn on your vehicle's headlights when driving in rain.

2 In heavy rain, use the brightest setting for your car's tail lights to improve visibility to vehicles behind you.

3 Check that your wiper blades are in good condition and make a good, clean sweep to ensure maximum visibility.

4 Avoid fog build-up on the inside of your car windows as this dramatically reduces visibility. Use the demister found in most modern cars or open a window slightly.

5 Check that you have enough tread on your tyres; the South African legal limit is a minimum of 1mm of tyre tread - but anything less than 3mm greatly increases the risk of aquaplaning.

6 Worn shock absorbers also increase the chances of aquaplaning, even with the best of tyres fitted. They also limit the efficiency of antilock braking systems, so check them and replace where necessary.

7 Cloudy and rainy weather makes for poor visibility so take extra care when passing; spray from other vehicles significantly reduces visibility.

8 Adjust your speed and following distance so that you can stop inside the area you can see, bearing in mind that your car needs more distance to stop on wet roads. Ideally, allow 4 - 8 eight seconds between your car and the car in front of you.

9 Avoid abrupt acceleration, braking and steering movements. Sudden stops or turns can cause a skid.

10 Don't drive through a flooded area unless you're sure the water is below the bottom of the rims - i.e. no deeper than the tyres. If you have any doubt, don't drive through the pool of water; rather find an alternate route.

11 If you have no option but to drive through an area with high water levels, drive slowly in a low gear, holding the steering wheel steady.

12 After driving in heavy rain for some time without using the brakes or if you've driven through standing water, lightly apply the brakes to dry them, especially if the car has old-style drum brakes.

13 If you have car trouble, turn on your hazard lights and pull as far off the road as you can. If possible, ensure that you have a reflective triangle that can be placed on the road - a sufficient distance behind your car to warn oncoming drivers.

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