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Extra vigilance is required when driving in wet weather


DESPITE the ongoing drought, many South Africans are experiencing thunderstorms or heavy rainfall and every motorist should be alert when driving in these conditions.

Having said that, the best driving skills in the world won’t help one bit if your car is not roadworthy. Should an emergency situation occur in wet conditions a driver must be able to take quick, appropriate action; driving with worn or faulty shocks, brakes, windshield wipers, headlights or tyres will not help. Not only will you endanger your own life, but the lives of other road users, as well.

Follow these safety tips while driving in the rain:

  • Increase the three-second gap to a five, or six-second gap in order to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead of you;

  • Drive slower in wet weather and apply the accelerator more gently when moving forward. Also, start braking earlier before approaching a stop sign or traffic lights. Braking suddenly in rainy conditions can cause a vehicle to start skidding;

  • Use the emergency lane to avoid approaching cars but only if you are able to see at least 150 metres ahead of you;

  • If you need to drive in the emergency lane, keep in mind there are pedestrians walking on the shoulder of the road who are trying to avoid muddy conditions;

  • Beware of oil patches on road surfaces. Drive as carefully as possible as the oil patches are relatively small and could go unnoticed in wet weather;

  • Be on the lookout during the first half hour or so when it starts raining. This is when oil and grime on the road surface mixes with water and a driver could possibly lose control of the vehicle;

  • Always switch on your vehicle’s headlights when driving in the rain; this will help you to see better and you will also be noticed by other drivers;

  • Wait a couple of seconds before activating the windshield wipers. An effective method is to add appropriate windshield washing fluid to the wiper’s water reservoir; this will help to clear any grime on the window much quicker than plain water.


Article written by Roelof de Jonge
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