WATCH | How to drive in floods and stay safe on the roads this holiday

<i>Image: Press Association Media</i>
<i>Image: Press Association Media</i>

Driving in rainy or wet weather can often become a challenging experience, but floods is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Floods tend to occur when heavy rain hits an area that is usually dry, rising at a rapid rate over the course of a few hours, according to National Geographic.

Precautionary measures

Staying off the road when heavy rain is forecast is the safest option but of course, it is easier said than done. Maybe you need to pick up a family member or get something at the shop, or just caught in an unexpected flash flood.

READ | 7 wet weather driving tips that could save you time and money

In the event you have to journey out in the treacherous conditions, it is best to check the route you are driving and drive slower than you normally would. Water can cover up potholes without you even knowing one is there until you hit it.

Driving too fast through a puddle will also lead to water getting into the intake of your engine which will bog the car down and hamper performance massively.

How to keep yourself and your family safe on the roads

As the festive season approaches, South Africa’s roads tend to get busier and more dangerous as some drivers take to the road with reckless abandon, whether they’re heading home after a night out, visiting friends or family or embarking on a family road trip.No matter how skilled of a driver you are, it makes sense to review the basics of traffic safety to make sure you and your passengers are safe when you’re behind the wheel.

"Stay safe on the roads by making sure you and your vehicle are in ‘roadworthy’ condition,” says Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options.

Whether you’re taking a long journey or you’re just driving to work, action anything that doesn’t feel right.

"Part of safe driving is having a safe car,” Smit says. "If you’ve heard a rattle in your car, or you have any warning lights, get it checked out as soon as possible.

"Check whether or not your car services are up to date. If you’re travelling to a new place, have a look at your GPS to get familiar with the route. Unfamiliarity can cause nervous and dangerous driving.

“While driving, you and your passengers should always buckle up – with no exceptions,” he advises. “Then, make sure you’re following the road rules. That means, amongst other things, no drinking and driving, follow the speed limits, obey the road traffic signs and don’t use your cell phone.”

The festive season is also typically a busy time of year so drivers might be tempted to multitask when they’re on the road.

Eating while driving or applying make-up when you’re stopped at the robot are both activities that take your focus away from the road.

Importantly, drivers should exercise patience and be predictable. Many accidents are caused by impatient drivers who are trying to get to their destination as quickly as possible.

Take the time to indicate before changing lanes, even when you think it’s unnecessary, and don’t make sudden stops. When other drivers can predict what you’re about to do next, your safety is maximised. 

“Respect your fellow road users and share the road. Behave safely, courteously and attentively at all times,” conclude Smit.

Here are a few facts to keep in mind about floods from the AA:

• Just 60cm of standing water will float your car.

• Just 30cm of flowing water could be enough to move your car.

• A mere egg-cupful of water could be enough to wreck an engine.

Compiled by: Robin Classen

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