Motoring News

Highveld winter blazes: Here’s some lifesaving ideas

WATCH OUT FOR WINTER BLAZES: Read the smoke as a warning to take another route or, if you can’t, remember what we have told you in the feature below. Image: Supplied

JOHANNESBRG, Gauteng – A multi-vehicle series of crashes on the N3 freeway on May 29 2019 killed at least nine people near Spruitview in Johannesburg.

The cause has yet to be officially confirmed but initial reports suggest that smoke from a veld fire contributed to the chaos.

Motoring expert Eugene Herbert has therefore warn that has the norther parts of South head into the dry winter months veld fires will become a serious concern for road users.

As the MD of MasterDrive, Herbert has provided The Corner with some suggestions on what to do if the smoke and flames of a veld fire cannot be avoided…


• Avoiding them is best so listen to radio channels that report such conflagrations and heed their warnings, take their advice about alternative routes.

• SLOW DOWN if you are caught in smoke from such a blaze and turn on your lights. Make sure everybody has their crash restraint fastened – just in case.

• Only activate your hazard-warning lights if you are forced to stop.

• DO NOT try to drive through thick smoke – you’ll court a collision with other vehicles or risk driving off the road into the flames. If safe to do so, turn around to find another route..

• Do not leave your car. Herbert says it is the safest place to be if you are caught in a fire as it provides the most protection from heat and smoke. ”Unlike portrayals in the movies,” he says, ”the petrol tank is unlikely to explode from the heat of a veld fire.”

• Stay low in your car and keep the windows and vents closed until the fire has passed.

• If, once the fire has passed, the smoke and heat in the car is too extreme get out and move to a burned area – ideally, keep your body covered.

• Give emergency vehicles priority on the roads and listen to their instructions. They have the most experience and will get you safely out of a veld fire. 

• If you need to stop, find a clearing or a section of the roadside which has low vegetation. Turn off your ignition but leave your lights on.


The Corner once again advises happy parents NOT TO hang or display a ‘BABY IN CAR’ sign. It is a NOT a badge of honour or of mating efficiency to show off in traffic or in the mall car-park but a notice to emergency workers to look for a child, perhaps under a seat or thrown from the car during a crash.

If no child is in the car, put the damn thing in your glove box: fire crews might otherwise risk their lives looking for an absent child.

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