CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Spring might have arrived (even though it feels like Winter is still hanging around in some places) and the Cape’s glorious flower show is in full bloom but your attention should be focused on the first rains across some of the country.
So, not only the lingering winter chill but also roads now wet after weeks – perhaps months – of dry winter weather across inland South Africa.
This morning, over Johannesburg at least where The Corner is in temporary residence, rain has been falling, so MasterDrive’s weekly driving tips by its MD Eugene Herbert have particular importance.
The first rain showers can be even more hazardous than wet weather in the middle of a rainy season because the water lifts accumulated oil, tyre rubber and other debris to the surface of the tarmac.
So, here are some tips to help you to keep pointing in the right direction…
• Adjust your speed to suit conditions but don’t slow down unnecessarily as this is just as dangerous.
• Don’t brake harshly and suddenly, especially if you feel yourself start to skid.
• Keep both hands on the steering wheel throughout the trip.
• If you have not done so already, check your wiper blades to ensure that they have not weathered over winter.
• Give yourself more travel time so you do not have to rush in bad weather.
• Do not use cruise control.
• Turn on your headlights.
• Brake earlier and with more caution.
• Avoid water which has pooled on the roads.
• If you cannot avoid this, drive through it slowly in case there is hidden debris or potholes.
• Leave a larger following distance.
• Driving recklessly and speeding increases your chances of hydroplaning.
• If you hydroplane, slowly lift your foot from the accelerator but do not brake harshly or move your steering wheel violently.
• If you start to skid, look where you want to be. While this may seem counterintuitive, our instinct is to steer in the direction that we are looking. Thus, if there is tree in front of you, do not look at the tree, rather look at where you want to be.
• Consider going for driver training on a skidpan before the rainy season starts in earnest to learn how to react if you do lose control during rainy weather.
If it is raining in your region – or looks like it is about to start – keep these tips in mind when you are on the road.