Heavy rains and strong winds have gripped most parts of the country, causing damage in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
Images and videos shared on social media today show cars submerged in flood water on the N2 highway in Durban. There have also been reports of trees being knocked down by high speed winds, while the roofs on several homes and schools have been blown off.
Gauteng experienced similar circumstances on Monday afternoon, especially around Mogale City on the West Rand. Dozens of homes were destroyed, trees uprooted, the roof at Cradlestone Mall collapsed, while a billboard on the busy Beyers Naude Drive was blown over.
Here are some motorist safety tips to help you stay safe:
- Be especially careful when the rain first starts. When the roads are dry for a long period of time, engine oil and grease builds up on roads and highways. As soon as the first drops of rain start to fall, the water mixes with this build-up, making the roads incredibly slick.
- Slow down. You should always drive at a slower speed when the roads are wet. The faster you drive in a rainstorm, the more likely you are to have an accident. Leave the house earlier than usual to give yourself additional travel time so you won’t feel the urge to rush.
- Brake earlier and slower. When you need to slow down or stop on wet roads, ease on the brakes earlier and with less force than you would normally. This decreases your risk of hydroplaning (skidding) and keeps a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. It also alerts any drivers behind you to slow down. If you stop too suddenly in a rainstorm, you could get rear-ended.
- Avoid big “puddles.” If you spot a huge puddle in the road up ahead, drive around it or take a different route. Depending on how deep the water is, it could even float your car. If you aren’t sure just how deep a puddle is, steer clear of it altogether.
- Turn on your headlights. Even if just a few raindrops are falling, turn on your headlights. Not only will this help you see the road, but it will help other drivers see you. However, don’t use your high beams in the rain. This can actually reduce your visibility and blind other drivers.
- Turn on your defroster. Your windshield can fog up quickly during a rainstorm, which can cause you to lose sight of the road. Turn on your front and rear defrosters and the A/C to defog your windows.
- Keep an eye out for pedestrians. In a rainstorm, a pedestrian’s view of the road could be obscured by their umbrella - which means they may accidentally step onto the road at the wrong time. If you are driving in a city or another area with pedestrians, keep a close eye out for people on the road.
- Pull over if the rainfall is too heavy. If the rain is falling so hard that you can barely see the car in front of you, pull over and wait for the rain to slow down or stop. After all, it’s much better for you to make it to your destination a little late than not at all.
- Don’t brake if you hydroplane. If you feel your car starting to skid, don’t brake suddenly or turn the steering wheel. This could send you into a skid. Instead, ease off the gas pedal slowly and steer straight until you feel your tyres regain traction. If you have to brake and don’t have anti-lock brakes, tap the brake pedal lightly. If you do have anti-lock brakes, you can brake normally.