Besides the most obvious reason of not being able to see the road clearly during rainfall, there is a hidden reason why drivers get into more accidents when it rains.
In South Africa, we believe that as soon as it starts to pour down on the roads, drivers tend to be more reckless. In actual fact, crashes in wet weather are common all over the world and the reason is that rainfall can push motor oils – which are otherwise hidden below – to the road’s surface, which in turn decreases tyre traction.
Heavy rains can also hide debris and potholes on the road which makes them impossible to avoid. It’s summer in South Africa and with the change of season comes downpours, which in turn brings more motor vehicle crashes.
The Automobile Association (AA) has cautioned motorists to be aware of the different conditions and adapt their driving accordingly. Brake earlier, enter corners at slower speeds, and maintain focus on the road ahead at all times, advises the AA.
“It is also important that motorists check that their windscreen wipers are working properly (front and back) and that their brakes are sound. Motorists should also check the condition of their tyres to avoid aquaplaning. Aquaplaning occurs where the tread on the tyres is no longer able to channel water away, and the tyre lifts off the road surface and starts to skim across the water like a speedboat,” it said.
Switch on your headlights, maintain a good following distance from the car ahead of you, and don’t speed. Importantly, always wear your safety belt and ensure all children and passengers are also strapped in.
Some tips to keep safe in wet conditions include:
- Ensure your headlights and brake lights are working
- Switch on your headlights, especially when natural light is low.
- Remember this also alerts other drivers to your presence on the road
- Ensure your windscreen and wipers are in good condition
- Check that your tyres are in good shape
- Don’t speed, and maintain a safe following distance
- Buckle up
- Don’t cross low-lying bridges, even if you think your car can make it
- 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
- Avoid areas where there are known to be adverse conditions
- Adjust your speed for the condition of the road.