The dangers of wet roads
Driving on wet roads can be dangerous, especially if you haven’t had your tires and breaks checked. It is always best to be prepared when you take the road, especially in SA, where weather conditions can change instantly.
When the skies open and the first drops fall, roads suddenly become wet and slippery, that’s when accidents happen, say experts at ArriveAlive.
Be on the defensive
Come winter, the number one hazard is the reduction of invisibility.
When those first drops fall, slow down, give yourself time and forget about rushing to your destination as fast as you can. Drop back into defensive, safety-above-all else mode.
Adjust your driving:
- If you drive too fast, you diminish your capacity to control your car.
- Driving too fast on wet roads that have unseen oily or gravel patches can cause the car to skid out of control. Don’t brake abruptly or yank your steering wheel violently if your car hydroplanes. Just lift your foot slowly off the accelerator.
- Try to avoid flooding patches of the road or where water has pooled because you don’t know what it’s hidden underneath. If that road is your only way through, then proceed slowly.
- Due to poor visibility, turn on your headlights, wiper blades and the demister, if you have one, as the windows fog up fast in wet weather, compounding the problem of straining to see through the sleets of rain.
- Practice vehicle distancing with double the space between the cars ahead and behind you
- When braking, ease your way to a stop by taking your foot off the accelerator rather than braking suddenly. Sudden braking can lead to skidding. Also, brakes respond slower in wet weather, so easing to a halt is preferable and use your brakes when necessary.
- Be fully aware of what is happening ahead of you on the road. Know who is doing what on the road ahead of you. This is to avoid having to brake suddenly if the car ahead brakes or another driver cuts in front of you or there’s an accident or an obstruction like a tree fall or a breakdown.
- Stay focussed on the road. Programme what needs to be programmed such as the GPS or the music before leaving home. Leave the phone off. If there is an emergency, you’re not going to get there fast and to the rescue anyway.
Be prepared for wet weather.
As the lovely sunny days appear as winter draws close, don’t take it easy yet. We could still have rain, ice or snow conditions and flooding until halfway into spring.
If you spend half your life on the road, consider a defensive driving course that trains you to drive in hazardous road conditions in all weather.
These courses teach how to control your car when faced with anything from unforeseen tyre bursts, hydroplaning and skidding. Definitely with looking into, as you’d be doing your bit to ensure road safety.
Other than that, before winter starts or during those nice weather intervals, check that all is well with your car, MasterDrive says.
Regular maintenance can make all the difference when faced with those hazards of the highways and byways.
These checks should include:
- Checking to see that your lights, battery and fuses won’t fail you
- Check that the windscreen wiper blades and your back window blades are working and that they have not worn out, as there is nothing worse than wiper blades where the rubber has perished, and you’re caught in a storm and unable to see
- Always check your brakes and replace these when needed. If you drive through a puddle or a flooded road, test the brakes by tapping them.
- Check that your tyres have the optimal tread depth and are properly inflated. Break the piggy bank to get new tyres as soon as possible if you find that your tyres are smooth. Well-maintained tyres ensure better traction on the road, which goes a long way towards ensuring a safer drive.
Safety on the road
If you get caught out on the wet road, don’t take chances and cross flooded roads or bridges and rural areas, low-lying bridges, streams and rivers. You could misjudge the situation and be swept away by fast-flowing water.
If there’s no alternative route, drive to a safer spot on higher ground and wait until the rising waters subside. Don’t drive beside rivers or park near them in bad weather.
If you’re walking, don’t go through deep waters because there can be anything in there; a downed power line or be contaminated with raw sewage or oil. Remember, just 15 cm of fast-flowing water can knock you down and pull you under.
Besides being prepared, be cautious and vigilant at all times in hazardous weather conditions.
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