- Drive Safe-Tips/Guides
Bad weather can catch drivers off guard. You may not be a reckless driver, but something as simple as a mild drizzle could impact your ability to drive safely.
Here are a few tips to help lower your accident risk and increase your driving skill.
One of the biggest causes of vehicle collisions is not keeping a safe following distance between themselves and the car ahead of them.
The 2-3 Second Rule
To apply this rule, use a landmark and count the time between yourself and the vehicle in front of you in seconds.
For example, take the car ahead of you passing a lamp post or a tree. Then count how many seconds it takes for you to pass the same landmark. This should be at least 2 or 3 seconds.
The 3 Car-Lengths Rule
A good indication of a safe following distance is imagining keeping three car distances between you and the car in front of you. In wet weather, increase the following distance.
Although modern vehicles are fitted with advanced safety features and vehicle driving dynamic systems, the car itself still connects to the road through the tyres. This means that your vehicle’s traction is managed with only the small patch of tyre rubber that makes contact with the road.
Tyre grooves are designed to disperse water while driving to ensure there is a continued connection between the rubber and road surface. If the grooves are degraded, the water may remain between the tyre and the road causing the car to aquaplane and lose traction. This can lead to the tyres not responding to steering or braking.
On wet roads your car will require a longer distance to brake due to reduced traction.
Driving ability aside, your vehicle may not count in your favour. Heavier vehicles will add to the time and distance the car would require coming to a safe stop.
When the weather turns grey:
- Reduce your speed to 20-30% below the normal speed limit of the road.
- Reduce the amount of hard or sudden movements you do to limit the chance of losing control.
‘Slow and steady’ is the term to use when driving in the wet.
Check the Quality of Your Windscreen Wipers
Windscreen wipers are made from rubber and silicone composites. These will deteriorate over time if the vehicle is exposed to heavy sunlight during the day, or if temperatures and the weather change drastically. Look for any cracks in the rubber, colour fade, or hardening.
When your windows steam up due to the cold weather, direct the air-conditioning or air ventilation towards the windscreen to help clear it up.
Drive With Your Lights On
Visibility is crucial when driving in bad weather. Make your own vehicle as visible as possible and the most important time to switch on your headlights on when visibility is low. However, avoid driving with your high-beam flashlights on as it can interfere with other drivers’ visibility in rainy conditions.
Driving in extreme rainy conditions calls for extra caution. Switch your hazard indicators on to show your position on the road while driving, and if and when possible, pull over into the first emergency area or fuel station to avoid being on the road until the weather clears.
Take an Advanced Driving Course
One of the best ways to improve your driving ability is to attend one of the many advance driving courses offered across South Africa.
At these courses, you learn how to control a car in wet weather while skidding sideways, but you will also learn what to do when a vehicle loses control, how to react to certain vehicle dynamics and manage a vehicle’s speed with certainty and confidence. And it’s a great day out driving around racetracks!
Read Phillip Kekana’s tips on where to do an advanced driving course.
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