South Africa's climate is as varied as the Rainbow Nation itself, ranging from Mediterranean to subtropical and desert. This means that the country experiences peak rainfall cycles at different times of the year, depending on the location.
No matter where you live in South Africa, it is important to ensure that your vehicle has been checked and serviced, and that you apply the necessary safety precautions when it rains.
- SERVICE: It is essential that you take your vehicle for a regular inspection, to ensure that your tyres, windscreen wipers and brake pads are in top working condition.
- KEEP YOUR WIPERS CLEAN: Check that your wipers are clean and dust-free, to prevent decreased visibility in a downpour.
- GO SLOW: Dirt and grime start to loosen on the road in the beginning of a rainy spell. This could make the road slippery, so slow down and drive carefully. Driving slower than usual will also allow you more control over your vehicle, and will eliminate the need to slam on your brakes (possibly causing your car to skid and cause an accident).
- ILLUMINATE: Turn on your headlights to increase visibility, no matter what time of day. Even if you can see well, driving with your lights on will ensure that you are visible to other motorists.
- ALL HANDS ON DECK: Keep both hands on the steering wheel. Do not get distracted by a phone, food or anything else that requires holding.
- EASY ON THE BRAKES: Beware of oil patches or big pools of water. Don’t brake hard. Instead, slow down gradually and drive through. Change to a lower gear before taking a sharp bend. Do not brake while you’re driving around a bend. Keep your speed at its slowest as you navigate the bend.
- 8-SECOND RULE: Maintain a larger than normal following distance (at least 4 – 8 seconds) between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Allow yourself extra time to come to a complete stop (especially in the case of “hydroplaning” – when your tyres skid over a thin layer of water).
If you’re driving behind a truck, make sure that you can see their mirrors and that they can see you. Trucks also generate a lot of spray, and increasing your following distance will enhance your visibility.
- BE VIGILANT: Be vigilant of vehicles behind you and in your blind spot. Think ahead and pre-empt other drivers’ possible actions.
Watch out for animals or pedestrians running across the road.
Do not drive through a flooded area unless you know the water is below the bottom of your wheel rims. If you have any doubt, find an alternative route.
If you must drive through a large puddle or deep water, drive slowly and in a low gear, while keeping the steering wheel steady.
- KEEP YOUR PHONE CHARGED: Keep your phone charged so that you can easily contact someone in case of an emergency. But remain hands-free while driving at ALL TIMES!