The start of the rainy season is a welcome relief from the winter dry spell but it also means more car accidents on our roads. Dialdirect is urging motorists to be vigilant.
RTMC report data shows that in 2018, poor visibility and wet or slippery road surfaces contributed to a total of 27.1% of the 10 564 fatal crashes on South African roads, with environmental factors being the second leading cause of accidents after human error.
The JMPD’s Wayne Minnaar concurs: “There is definitely an increase in car accidents when the rainy weather starts. This is attributed to wet roads, poor visibility and failure by motorists to adjust their driving to the wet weather conditions.”
Dialdirect offers the following wet weather driving tips:
- Make a conscious effort to adjust your speed and following distance. Your car needs more distance to stop on wet roads. Allow at least 4 to 8 seconds between your car and the car in front of you.
- Always turn on your vehicle’s headlights when driving in wet weather.
- In heavy rain, use the brightest setting for your car’s tail lights to improve visibility to vehicles behind you.
- Make sure that your wiper blades are in good condition and do a good, clean sweep to ensure maximum visibility.
- Avoid the build-up of fog on the inside of your car windows as this dramatically reduces visibility. Use the anti-fog features or open the window slightly.
- Check that you have sufficient tread on your tyres. This minimises the chances of aquaplaning. Though the South African legal limit is a minimum of 1mm of tyre tread, anything below 3mm can greatly increase the risk of aquaplaning.
- Worn shock absorbers also increases the chances of aquaplaning, even with the best of tyres fitted. It also limits the ability of ABS-systems to work efficiently, so be sure to check your car’s shock absorbers and replace them where necessary.
- Cloudy and rainy weather makes for poor visibility so take extra care when passing other vehicles. Spray from other vehicles reduces visibility considerably.
- Avoid abrupt acceleration, braking and steering movements. Sudden stops and turns may result in skidding.
- Be wary of oily patches on the road. Rain, especially at the beginning of the rainy season, often cause oil that has sunk into the road to rise to the surface, making it extremely slippery.
- Do not drive through flooded areas unless you are sure that the water is below the bottom of your wheel rims. If you have any doubt, don’t drive through the pool of water – rather find an alternate route.
- 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.
- After driving in heavy rain for some time without applying the brakes or if you drive through standing water, lightly apply the brakes to dry them, especially if the vehicle is fitted with drum brakes.
- If you have car trouble, turn on your hazard lights and pull off the road. 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 motorists.
Maanda Tshifularo, Head of Dialdirect concludes: “Rainy season safety will take a proactive effort from all South African road users to avoid carnage on our roads. So buckle up and take extra precautions when driving in the wet. In the event that the unforeseen does happen, it’s wise to ensure that you have adequate insurance in place.”
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