13 Road Safety Tips For Driving In The Rain

Cape Town has been put on alert for flooding over the next few weeks! Take a look at these 13 road safety tips when driving in wet weather.
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Published: Tuesday, March 14th 2017
General
According to the Automobile Association (AA), the bad weather affecting many parts of South Africa requires drivers to be hyper vigilant and to obey all road safety tips at their disposal. 
“There are a lot of wet, even icy, roads out there meaning that tyres may only have half as much grip on the surface as on dry roads. Motorists need to be aware that the conditions are different and must adapt their driving accordingly." "They need to brake earlier, enter corners at slower speeds, and maintain focus on the road ahead at all times.” Read more about what to do if you are caught in a flash flood here! Read More.

How To Check Your Tyre Tread

Before heading out to brave the waterlogged roads, it is important that motorists check that both their windscreen wipers and brakes are working correctly. Your greatest defense in wet weather, however, is undoubtedly the condition of your tyres.
Take a look at these road safety tips from Goodyear to check the condition of your tyres: road safety tips, how to check tyre tread, tyre, tire, tread
  • Visible tread wear indicators: You can only see these bars of hard rubber when your tyre’s tread has become worn. If you can see them, your tyres need replacing.
  • Your tread is less than 1.6mm: Under South African law, your treads must be at least 1.6mm deep around the tyre’s circumference. Make sure you measure both the inside and outside of your treads using a tread depth gauge.
  • Something’s lodged in the tread: Most of the time this is easy to remove. But, if you spot something that looks as if it’s gone through the rubber, like a nail, leave it in until you can get to a garage to avoid a flat tyre.
  • Tyres are worn on the outside: If they’re worn on both of their edges, you might need to inflate them or check for leaks. Tyres loose air naturally, but driving on under-inflated tyres uses more fuel and puts you at greater risk of accidents. If you notice that only the front tyres have worn edges, you might be taking corners too quickly. Make sure you regularly check your tyre pressure.
  • Tyres are worn in the centre: If the centre of the tread is wearing more than the outer edges, you might have over-inflated your tyres. This can increase the risk of a tyre blowout.
  • Uneven wear across a single tyre: The wear patterns on your treads might indicate problems elsewhere. If you notice uneven patches of wear, or bald spots, you might need your wheels balanced or aligned. Bald spots can also indicate that your shocks are worn.
  • Uneven wear across all the tyres: Your tyres won’t wear out at the same rate. The front of your vehicle carries the engine and does most of the steering work. So, tyres on your front axle will wear out more quickly. If they seem to be wearing more than normal, you should have your suspension checked. If wear is greater on one side of the vehicle than the other, it might be time for an alignment.
  • Saw-toothed pattern on tyre edges: If you notice that your tyres have a 'saw-toothed' or 'feathered' appearance around the edges, the likely cause is erratic rubbing against the road. That’s a sign that you may need an alignment done.
An accident in the rain could set you back financially! Make sure you have comprehensive insurance. Get quotes today!

The Phenomenon of Aquaplaning

Wet weather conditions can also cause accidents as a result of Aquaplaning. This occurs where the tread on the tyres are no longer able to channel water away, and the tyre lifts off the road surface. This makes the car skim across the water and the driver no longer has control of the car. Take a look at Ford UK's demonstration of the dangers of aquaplaning:

13 Road Safety Tips When Driving In Wet Conditions

“Now is not the time to take any chances with safety. Crashes in wet, icy conditions are common, and we advise everyone to heed the call to drive safely. Switch on your headlights, maintain a good following distance from the car ahead of you, and don’t speed. More importantly, always wear your safety belt and ensure all children and passengers are also strapped in,” the AA said.

Apart from ensuring their cars are in a good condition, the Association also warned motorists not to take chances by crossing low-lying bridges as the fast-flowing water could cause them to be swept downstream.
  1. Ensure your headlights and brake lights are working.
  2. Switch on your headlights, especially when natural light is low. Remember this also alerts other drivers to your presence on the road.
  3. Ensure your windscreen and wipers are in good condition.
  4. Check that your tyres are in good shape.
  5. Don’t speed, and maintain a safe following distance.
  6. Buckle up.
  7. Don’t cross low-lying bridges, even if you think your car can make it.
  8. Slow down before entering standing water on the road as this may cause the car to “pull” to the side without warning, and it may be deeper than it looks.
  9. Avoid areas where there are known to be adverse conditions.
  10. Adjust your speed for the condition of the road. Just because a road is marked at 120km, doesn’t mean it is safe to travel at this speed in all conditions.
  11. Concentrate on the road, not on anything else, such as electronic devices.
  12. If you are going to an area known to have bad weather, and there is a possibility you may be stuck for extended periods, remember to take extra blankets, appropriate clothing, and refreshments. And, ensure your tank has enough fuel for the journey.
  13. Keep your cellphone charged in case of an emergency.