According to a statement by the Johannesburg Metro Police, 52 cars crashed during the heavy downpour in Gauteng this month in a space of six hours. “Of the storm and flood claims received by us since 1 January, 40% by value were for damage to vehicles. Given the warning by the South African Weather Services that more rain can be expected in Gauteng till April and with the beginning of the winter rainy season expected in April in the southern parts of the country, we advise motorists to adopt certain risk mitigation measures that will keep them and their vehicles safe,” says Gari Dombo, MD of Alxander Forbes Insurance (AFI).
AFI offers a number of tips to minimise some of the damage to vehicles ahead of the forecasted wet seasons:
Rainy weather driving- AFI safety tips
Car checks: Before it starts to rain, or before a rainy season, replace old or brittle wipers. Get into the habit of checking that your headlights, tail lights, brake lights and indicator lights are working properly. Also check your tyres regularly, bald tyres significantly reduce your traction on wet roads and offer little resistance to hydroplaning (when the car loses traction on the road and effectively rides on a layer of water like a boat.)
Slow down: It takes longer to stop or react to road conditions in wet weather. Also, avoid using your brakes to slow down; if possible, take your foot off the accelerator to slow down.
Safe following distance: Maintain a safe following distance which may need to be increased in wet conditions.
Don’t follow large trucks or busses too closely. The spray created by their large tyres could reduce your vision. Also be careful when passing or overtaking them; if you must overtake them, do so quickly and safely.
Be vigilant: Watch out for brake lights in front of you.
Turn on your lights: As other drivers may not be able to see you clearly in heavy downpour, switching on your headlights will let them know where you are, making you safer.
Avoid puddles and moving water: It’s difficult to judge the actual depth of puddles and you can easily become stuck. Never drive through moving water if you can’t see the ground through it; your car could be swept off the road. Deep water can also cause serious damage to a modern car’s electrical system.
Pull over and wait it out: If the rain seriously limits your ability to see the road, then pull over and wait for it to ease up. Stop at rest areas such as a petrol station or other protected areas and wait until the storm passes. If you can only stop at on the side of the road, keep your headlights on and turn on your hazards to alert other drivers of your vehicle’s presence.