The Automobile Association (AA) urges all motorists to be vigilant on the roads due to bad weather affecting many parts of South Africa, and a renewed commitment from all drivers to obey the rules of the road.
“There are a lot of wet, even icy, roads out there meaning that tyres may only have half as much grip on the surface as on dry roads. Motorists need to be aware that the conditions are different and must adapt their driving accordingly. They need to brake earlier, enter corners at slower speeds, and maintain focus on the road ahead at all times,” the AA advised.
The association also said it was important that motorists check that their windscreen wipers were working properly (front and back) and that their brakes were sound. It said motorists should also check the condition of their tyres to avoid aquaplaning. Aquaplaning occurs where the tread on the tyres is no longer able to channel water away, and the tyre lifts off the road surface and starts to skim across the water like a speedboat.
“Now is not the time to take any chances with safety. Crashes in wet, icy conditions are common, and we advise everyone to heed the call to drive safely. Switch on your headlights, maintain a good following distance from the car ahead of you, and don’t speed. Importantly, always wear your safety belt and ensure all children and passengers are also strapped in,” the AA said.
Apart from ensuring their cars are in a good condition, the Association also warned motorists not to take chances by crossing low-lying bridges as the fast-flowing water could cause them to be swept downstream.
Some tips from the AA to keep safe in wet conditions include:
- Ensure your headlights and brake lights are working;
- Switch on your headlights, especially when natural light is low. Remember this also alerts other drivers to your presence on the road;
- Ensure your windscreen and wipers are in good condition;
- Check that your tyres are in good shape;
- Don’t speed, and maintain a safe following distance;
- Buckle up;
- Don’t cross low-lying bridges, even if you think your car can make it;
- Slow down before entering standing water on the road as this may cause the car to “pull” to the side without warning, and it may be deeper than it looks;
- Avoid areas where there are known to be adverse conditions;
- Adjust your speed for the condition of the road. Just because a road is marked at 120km, doesn’t mean it is safe to travel at this speed in all conditions;
- Concentrate on the road, not on anything else such as electronic devices;
- If you are going to an area known to have bad weather, and there is a possibility you may to stuck for extended periods, remember to take extra blankets, appropriate clothing and refreshments, and ensure your tank has enough fuel for the journey;
- Keep your cellphone charged in case of an emergency.
“The wet conditions are expected to continue until at least Thursday and all drivers are urged to stay calm, adhere to the rules of the road, and arrive safely at their destinations,” the AA concluded.