EXPLAINER: Wet weather driving tips


File: Driving in wet weather requires extreme caution.

JOHANNESBURG - Driving in wet weather requires extreme caution and motorists should adapt their driving habits to ensure their safety on the road whilst the wet and slippery conditions continue.

“Roads become slick and slippery when it rains so drivers must adapt their driving style, speed, following distance, settings on their vehicle and be prepared for emergency situations.

"It’s also imperative for drivers to ensure that their vehicles are in a good condition to perform effectively in adverse weather situations”, stresses Warwick Scott-Rodger, Executive Head of Dialdirect Insurance.

He concedes that negotiating heavy traffic at snail&39;s pace on slick roads as rain pummels your car can be a test of endurance. But, he urges motorists to be patient and take it easy.

“Expect and be prepared for delays on the road during poor weather conditions. Try to be patient and allow extra travel time. It is also helpful to listen to the traffic report on a regional radio station for updates on floods and vehicle accidents affecting the roads. If your route is affected, find an alternate route or stay put until it is safe,” he says.

Dialdirect offers the following wet weather driving tips:

1. Always turn on your vehicle’s headlights when driving in wet weather.
2. In heavy rain, use the brightest setting for your car’s tail lights to improve visibility to vehicles behind you.
3. Check to make sure that your wiper blades are in good condition and do a good, clean sweep to ensure maximum visibility.
4. Avoid the build-up of fog on the inside of your car windows as this dramatically reduces visibility. Use the anti-fog features found on most modern cars or open the window slightly.
5. Check that you have sufficient tread on your tyres. This minimises the chances of aquaplaning.  Though the South African legal limit is a minimum of 1mm of tyre tread, anything below 3mm can greatly increase the risk of aquaplaning.
6. Worn shock absorbers also increase the chances of aquaplaning, even with the best of tyres fitted. It also limits the ability of ABS-systems to work efficiently, so be sure to check your car’s shock absorbers and replace them where necessary.
7. Cloudy and rainy weather makes for poor visibility so take extra care when passing other vehicles. Spray from other vehicles reduces visibility considerably.
8. Adjust your speed and following distance to ensure that you can safely stop within the visible area ahead. Your car needs more distance to stop on wet roads. Allow at least 4 to 8 seconds between your car and the car in front of you.
9. Avoid abrupt acceleration, braking and steering movements.  Sudden stops and turns may result in skidding.
10. Do not drive through flooded areas unless you are sure that the water is below the bottom of the wheel rims.  If you have any doubt, don’t drive through the pool of water; rather find an alternate route.
11. If you have no option but to drive through an area with high water levels, drive slowly in a low gear, holding the steering wheel steady.
12. After driving in heavy rain for some time without applying the brakes or if you drive through standing water, lightly apply the brakes to dry them, especially if the vehicle is fitted with drum brakes.
13. If you have car trouble, turn on your hazard lights and pull completely off the road. If possible, ensure that you have a reflective triangle that can be placed on the road – a sufficient distance behind your car to warn oncoming motorists.