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By Motoring Reporter


The rainy season is here – driving tips to stay safe on wet roads

Poor visibility and wet road surfaces are both major contributers to fatal car crashes in South Africa.

With rain forecast and hail warnings issued for large parts of South Africa in the coming weeks, Dialdirect is urging motorists to be vigilant.

While a welcome relief for our reservoirs, rain also signals an uptick in car accidents. This is highlighted in the most recent annual State of Road Safety report of the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).

According to the report, poor visibility and wet road surfaces ranked under the top five environmental factors that contributed to fatal crashes in South Africa from January to December 2021.

This is echoed by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department, which has indicated that there is definitely an increase in vehicle accidents when the rainy weather starts. This is mainly attributed to wet roads, poor visibility and failure by motorists to adjust their driving to the wet weather conditions.

Danger of potholes

Dialdirect’s claim statistics show a similar trend.

“Adopting a proactive approach to wet weather driving safety, making sure that your vehicle is up to the task and adjusting your driving behaviour is absolutely vital,” says Anneli Retief, Head of Dialdirect Insurance.

She adds that the rainy weather also results in a proliferation of potholes, putting even more strain on our fragile road infrastructure.

“A pothole is depression or a hollow in a road surface. They form when moisture or water seeps below the surface of the road. The moisture then freezes and expands or heats up and contracts, causing stress to the asphalt. Combine the asphalt fatigue with wet weather conditions and you have the perfect recipe for potholes,” adds Retief.

Driving tips for wet weather conditions

  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast and look out for warnings of heavy rains, hail and high winds. Avoid danger areas where possible.
  • Make sure to have all emergency numbers, including that of your insurer, saved on your phone.
  • Make a conscious effort to adjust your speed and following distance. Your car needs more distance to stop on wet roads. Allow at least four to eight seconds between your car and the car in front of you.
  • One of the most important wet weather driving tips is to 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.

ALSO READ: Five basic tips to keep your vehicle maintained

  • 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 1 mm of tyre tread, anything below 3 mm 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, so be sure to anticipate this.

ALSO READ: SA Drivers: Men brake better, while women keep to speed limits

Insurance safety net

“We can avoid carnage on our roads, but it’ll require a proactive effort from all South African road users, so make a conscious effort to buckle up, take it slow and take extra precautions when driving in the wet,” adds Retief.

“In the event that the unforeseen does happen, it’s wise to ensure that you have comprehensive insurance in place.”

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