First rains are here!

Parts of Gauteng have already experienced their first downpours for the summer.

Wet Road
Image Supplied by MasterDrive

While this is encouraging following the country’s recent drought, do not forget the roads will be more challenging today. Oil and grease collect on the roads during a dry season making them even more slippery and hazardous than during the rest of the rainy season.

The MD of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, provides tips on the best way to handle the roads in this condition: 

  • Give yourself more travel time so you do not have to rush in bad weather.
  • Adjust your speed to suit the conditions, however, do not slow down unnecessarily as this is just as dangerous.
  • 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 more following space.
  • Driving recklessly and speeding increases chances of hydroplaning.
  • If you hydroplane, slowly lift your foot from the accelerator but do not brake harshly or move your steering wheel violently.
  • Consider going for driver training on a skip pan to learn how to react if you do lose control during rainy weather.

Veld fires

Conversely, for parts of the country where dry conditions are persisting, drivers are likely to encounter veld fires. This is what you should do when driving through a veld fire. 

  • Listen to traffic broadcasts and watch social media channels to avoid affected areas.
  • Reduce your speed as visibility will be severely reduced.
  • While it is recommended to always drive with your headlights on, ensure they are on so that your visibility is increased.
  • If the smoke is extremely thick do not attempt to drive through it. You risk colliding with other vehicles or risk driving off the road into the fire. Rather find another route.
  • Do not exit your car. Your car is the safest place to be if you are caught in a fire as it provides the most protection from heat and smoke.
  • Unlike portrayals in the movies, the petrol tank is unlikely to explode from the heat of a veld fire.
  • Stay low in your car and keep the windows and vents closed while you wait for the fire to pass.
  • If, once the fire has passed, the smoke and heat in the car is too extreme get out and move to an area which is already burnt, ideally keeping your body covered.
  • Give emergency vehicles priority on the roads and listen to their instructions. They have the most experience and will get you safely out of a veld fire. 
  • If you need to stop, find a clearing or a section of the roadside which has low vegetation. Turn your ignition off and lights on.

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