How to safely conquer wet roads
Adhering to a few simple steps can ensure safe driving in rainy weather and on wet roads
When South Africa experiences unprecedented rainfall drivers are very often forced to travel in the rain or on wet roads to reach their destinations.
It is important to adapt your driving style and keep the following in mind when driving in wet weather to ensure the safety of your vehicle and its occupants.
1. Tyres in a good condition are vital
Ensure that your tyres are adequately inflated and that they have sufficient tread; a minimum of 1.8mm.
TIP: Read 'How to check your tyre tread'
2. Visibility is key
A good condition, clean, windscreen will provide optimal visibility.
Ensure that your wipers are in working condition and that the blades are not cracked or broken.
Switch on your headlights to increase your visibility for oncoming and following traffic.
3. Some assistance systems are good, others are not
Ensure that your vehicles stability control system remains switched on.
With most vehicles this is the default setting when the car is started.
Never use cruise control when driving in the rain or on wet roads as it slows down your ability to react to changing conditions.
4. Change your driving style
Despite the indicated speed limit, it is a good idea to travel well below the speed limit to avoid aquaplaning, especially when there is a lot of standing water on the road surface.
The distance that it takes to slow your vehicle in wet conditions is greatly increased so be sure to increase your following distance substantially.
While a smooth driving style is always a good idea, it is particularly important in wet conditions. Avoid sudden or harsh steering inputs as well as braking and be gentle with the throttle.
Overzealous acceleration can easily cause the driven wheels to lose traction on a wet surface. On the contrary, always reduce speed gradually by braking softly.
5. Avoid water hazards
Try avoiding driving through puddles if possible as it is difficult to judge the depth of the water and what lies beneath. Puddles can very often disguise potholes.
If it is not possible to avoid driving through a puddle be sure to do so at a slow speed and with the steering wheel in a straight position.
Avoid flooded roads completely, just a few centimetres of water are enough to float the average sized car while water ingress can cause catastrophic damage to engine components.