The past week has been a very wet one for most South Africans. After facing a few days of a very hectic heatwave, the weather in Johannesburg took a complete 180 degree turn for the total opposite. The second week of December seemed a lot more wet than we had anticipated. Even though the rain was long overdue, it seemed to last a little longer than expected.

The South African Weather Service warned of localized flooding and a cold front, but this is the least of what most South Africans had expected. Emergency service officials have had their hands full monitoring the flooding in parts of Centurion, Sandton and Mamelodi over the past few days. Drivers in the city have additionally been influenced and have needed to change routes due overflowed streets and low-water bridges.

With that said, here are a few tips on how to stay safe on the roads during this wet weather:

  • Do not brake suddenly- this could cause the car to skid.
  • Try to always shift to a lower gear when approaching a bend or a sharp curve-doing this gives you control of your vehicle when driving around a bend.
  • Always keep watch of oil patches on the road-if you do spot one, do not panic or jam your breaks.
  • Double your normal following distance-this gives you enough “reaction time”
  • Only approach a shoulder if you can see clearly ahead of you for at least 150m.
  • Be wary of pedestrians that may be walking or trying to avoid the rain
  • Slow down- the roads are wet and slippery

Once again guys it is always important to make sure that your car is road worthy at all times. This allows you to react swiftly if you are ever in a tricky situation on the road. Always ensure that your windscreen wipers are in good condition too-imagine being stuck in a rainstorm with dysfunctional wipers-it could be a very long and dangerous trip.

Keep in mind that it is not only motorists who are exposed to these weather conditions. We need to take precaution for all road users, and this includes pedestrians, bikers and cyclists when making use of our roads in these conditions.

The recent floods have also caused a stir and it is important that motorists know how to react when faced with such conditions. Here are a few things you can also watch out for:

  • Flowing water tends to apply pressure to contact areas therefore, the higher the speed, the higher the pressure.
  • It is impossible to move a car forward in large bodies of standing water-The water does not exert side pressure, so it lifts and floats the vehicle.
  • Don’t attempt driving over low water bridges if the water is flowing across it.

Remember to stay safe at all times and if you can, avoid driving in heavy rainstorm weather.

By Noni Nchwe