Here’s how to better prepare yourself for driving on wet or flooded roads

The sunny days are becoming fewer, and waking up in the morning is becoming more challenging. These are some indications to let you know that winter has made its presence known.

Other than the obvious cold, most parts of the country and provinces will have to brace themselves for regular bouts of rain. On that subject, KwaZulu-Natal is experiencing one of its worst bouts of severe rainfall at the moment as large parts of the province have become severely affected by massive flooding, destroying infrastructure, residential property and resulting in many losing their lives.

On the 11th and 12th of April, parts of Durban received between 200 and 400mm of rainfall in a 24-hour period. President Cyril Ramaphosa has officially declared a National State of Disaster because of this.

The best you can do as a driver is to take every care and be as prepared as possible for driving in less-than-ideal wet conditions. In conjunction with MasterDrive, here’s how to better prepare yourself and your car for driving on flooded or wet roads:

Driving in rain

  • Turn on your headlights if they are not already on.
  • Where possible, drive in the middle of a road where the water is at its lowest.
  • Be prepared for off-spray from passing cars which can be blinding.
  • Aquaplaning is one of the biggest risks in rainy weather. Reduced speed is the best way to reduce the chances of this occurring.
  • If the downpour becomes extreme and there is a petrol station or another safe place to pull over, rather do this.
  • Adjust your speed to conditions. This includes reducing your speed if other vehicles have reduced their speed.

Make sure your vehicle is prepared

  • Tyres – This is the immediate contact between your vehicle and the road, so it is imperative to check that it is in good condition. Make sure they are inflated to your vehicle’s specification and that there is still a sufficient amount of tread left. In South Africa, the legal limit for tyre tread is 1mm. It is also worth noting that in the event of a collision, your insurance claims may be denied if your tyres are discovered to be in bad condition.
  • Brakes & suspension – Stopping distance and power is greatly reduced during wet conditions. Worn control arm bushes, tie rod ends and uneven wheel alignment on the suspension assembly can have adverse effects on drivability and premature tyre wear. If you hear knocking, play on the steering wheel or the vehicle pulling to one side, it is best to have it checked out as soon as possible.
  • Wipers – There’s no way you’ll be able to drive in the rain without your wiperblades as they provide a clear view of the road ahead. They are largely inexpensive to have fitted and can be done so at any service centre. If the wiper creates streaks, semi-circular lines, squeaking or hopping on the windscreen then it needs to be replaced. This is usually caused by harsh sunlight and debris that causes the rubber on the blade to dry out and crack.

Now that you’ve got the knowledge, it’s time to shop! Head to gumtree.co.za or your Gumtree app (click for Apple & Android) and don’t forget to use your location settings to find local service information close to home.

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