JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Parts of the Transvaal take heavy and sustained rainfall during the summer and flooding on roads is common… along with reduced visibility behind and ahead for drivers.
Last weekend – for future readers it was early February 2022 – heavy downpours resulted in flooding… roads were closed yet some road users were still caught in difficult and dangerous situations.
So, for future information – particularly those Carman’s Corner readers not familiar with Highveld thunderstorms – should you find yourself caught in one here’s some info that might help (though the best bet, if you can spare the time, is to pull over until the storm has passed).
RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY! BUT WHAT IT IF DOESN’T?
- Make sure you headlights – dipped – are on.
- Adjust road speed to conditions – rain and tar is a dangerous combination – especially if others have slowed.
- Maintain a greater following distance on a wet road – you’ll have more time to adjust should the vehicle ahead panic stop.
- Take it easy around road curves and corners – especially if there are white lines around. They get skiddy when wet – and aquaplaning is one of the biggest risks during and immediately after rain.
- Should a skid start DO NOT SLAM ON ANCHORS! Lift off the go-pedal – don’t jerk the steering-wheel! Steer gently in the direction you wish to take.
- If the downpour becomes drenching look for the safest place to pull off the road – seek a layby, a garage forecourt, a shopping centre, a car-park and let calm return and the rainfall cease.
YOU’RE ABOUT TO HIT A POOL OF WATER…
- Reduce speed and weigh up the possible water depth. Avoid driving through water whose depth reaches the centre of your car’s wheels. Greater depth can be sudden….! as can engine-stalling potholes.
- Where possible, drive in the centre (on the crown) of a road where the water is less deep.
- Slow down if a vehicle approaching in the opposite lane is going too fast and throwing up spray – the spray will be blinding on your windscreen.
- This is, perhaps, life-threatening, so…
- Never drive through fast-flowing water – judging depth is impossible and even trucks can be can be swept away.
- If, however, you are caught in fast-flowing water then drive slowly and steadily in first or second gear.
- Assuming you make it through the hazard (please do, I need you readers!) use the brakes gently – they need a little while to dry and become fully operational.
- If your vehicle stalls but is not in peril of being swept away, don’t restart the engine – rather call for a tow and have a mechanic check to see if water has entered the engine.
WHAT TO DO IN A FLASH FLOOD
- In extremis, if you feel your car is starting to go with the flow, open a door to let in some water – it will make the vehicle heavier and add grip to the tyres.
- SHOULD THE WORST happen – the car is perhaps starting to be dragged into deeper water – abandon car.