Parts of South Africa have been experiencing continual rainfall for almost a week now. Today warnings have been issued in certain provinces: Gauteng, eastern parts of North West, north-eastern Free State and western Highveld of Mpumalanga. Should you find yourself on the roads encountering heavy rainfall, follow these tips
Driving in rain
Aquaplaning is one of the biggest risks in rainy weather. Reduced speed is the best way to reduce the chances of this.
If you hydroplane, slowly lift your foot from the accelerator but do not brake harshly or move your steering wheel violently.
You also need to adjust your speed to conditions. Thus, if other vehicles have reduced their speed, reduce your speed as well.
Leave larger following distances so that you have more time to respond if something goes wrong.
Give yourself more time to stop or to go around corners.
If you start to skid, don’t slam on the brakes. Continue steering in the direction you want to go and do not make any harsh adjustments.
Turn on your headlights.
If the downpour becomes extreme and there is a petrol station or another safe place to pull over, rather do this.
Pools of water:
Estimate the depth of the water. Avoid driving through water which comes to the middle of your tyre or higher.
Most drivers risk driving through a pool of water but roads which collect water are more vulnerable to collapse and it is easy to underestimate their depth.
Where possible, drive in the middle of a road where the water is at its lowest.
Be prepared for off spray from passing cars which can be blinding.
Never drive through fast flowing water, it is very difficult to judge its depth.
Even trucks can be swept away in the right circumstances.
If you are caught in fast-flowing water unexpectedly, drive slowly and steadily through while in first or second gear.
Once you are through the water, lightly touch your brake a few times to dry them off.
If you stall and you are not in danger of being swept away, do not restart your car. Rather get a mechanic to check no water has made its way into the engine.
When caught in an unexpected flash flood
If you do feel your car losing grip with the road, open the door to let some of the water in which might help to weigh the car down and allow the tyres to grip the road again
If you are in danger of being swept away abandon the vehicle if you have an opportunity to do so safely.
Be overcautious. Rather be safe than sorry.