Wet roads are not always the order of the day, but during this time of the year, rainy days are more frequent than not in Mzansi, and as motorists we need to ensure that we understand what to do to drive safely under these conditions and arrive alive.
When roads are wet they become slippery, and what makes matters worse is that leaked oil from vehicles begins to rise to the surface, making some sections of the road particularly slippery. This doesn’t affect car drivers as much as it does motorcyclists because four wheels (contact patches) are better than two, especially where grip is required. Here are some things that you could do to ensure your safety and that of other motorists during this rainy season.
It’s always a wise idea to reduce the speed of your vehicle when the heavens open up and grace us with raindrops. This will allow you to brake and bring your vehicle to a stop comfortably should you have to do so suddenly. Remember, the faster you drive, the more you increase your stopping distance
Use your wipers
This may seem like a no brainer, but wipers are an important tool for navigating wet weather. It’s important to make sure that your wiper blades are working effectively and clear the water off your windscreen well enough for you to see clearly. If you have this in place, don’t be shy to use those wipers, even at a higher intensity than you think may be necessary. The important thing is that you have as clear as possible visibility.
Increase following distance
Leaving enough room between you and the vehicle ahead of you will ensure that you have enough time and space to react should something unexpected happen. You’ll also be doing yourself a favour in avoiding the spray from the vehicle ahead of you because it often reduces visibility.
Avoid pools of water
Often rainwater pools up on a particular section of the road because of a ditch or poor drainage. These pools of water can cause what’s referred to as aqua plaining. Your vehicle will aquaplane when you drive through a ditch of water and you may feel like you’re losing control for a brief moment as it wiggles sideways after losing traction. Avoiding pools of water if you can, will reduce your risk of experiencing this uncomfortable occurrence. If you can’t avoid it, rather drive through the water at a slower speed.
Avoid sudden or harsh braking
With a slippery road surface beneath you, braking harshly or suddenly may cause your vehicle to skid because of a loss of traction due to the slippery surface. Give yourself enough time to brake without aggressively hitting the brake pedal.
Use your lights
If you must, turn on your dim headlamps while driving in the rain. This will allow other motorists to see you under poor conditions. Depending on the amount of natural light and visibility through the rain, you may need to turn your full headlamps on should the situation require this. Don’t feel awkward for doing this even if it’s during the day – you would rather be seen and avoid a collision than the alternative.