#Dineo is storming towards SA: Here's what SA motorists should do

<B>DINEO IS COMING:</B> South African motorists can expect torrential downpours when tropical cyclone Dineo hits. <I>Image: Arrive Alive</I>
<B>DINEO IS COMING:</B> South African motorists can expect torrential downpours when tropical cyclone Dineo hits. <I>Image: Arrive Alive</I>

Cape Town - Residents and road users in northern parts of South Africa have been warned about tropical storm Dineo affecting the country.

Traveller24  warns that South Africans should be on high alert as the threat of the cyclone could cause serious damage to property and vehicles. The storm could have disastrous affects on our roads.

The Department of Cooperative Governance said: "The Tropical Storms will lead to flooding that might cut off many communities, displace others, lead to loss of life, destruction of infrastructure and property. South Africa will not be immune or spared from the wrath of this cyclone."

The South African Weather Service said the country could experience severe storms and heavy rains starting from Thursday, February 16, until Sunday February 19. "The provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the extreme northern parts of KZN to be more affected leaving behind disastrous conditions," according to the SA Weather Service.

READ: SA communities warned to prepare for the 'wrath of cyclone #Dineo'

Read our guide on dealing with flooded roads and adverse weather conditions:

13 tips for driving in the rain:
  1 Always turn on your vehicle’s headlights in wet weather.

  2 In heavy rain use the brighter (rear fog lights) setting for your car’s tail lights.

  3 Make sure your wiper blades are in good condition and do a clean sweep.

  4 Do not allow the inside of your car's windows to mist up. Switch on front and rear screen demisters and your aircon - yes, an aircon dries the air and removes mist almost instantly.

  5 Check your tyre tread: the legal minimum is 1mm but for safety's sake make sure it's treble that.

  6 Worn shock-absorbers don't keep the rubber hard down on the road; no road contact = no ABS, no grip and very little braking.

  7 Cloudy and rain = poor visibility. Take extra care when overtaking - and remember not all drivers coming towards you will have their headlights on.

READ: UPDATE - #Dineo downgraded, but heavy rains still expected to hit SA

  8 Adjust speed and following distance; at least six seconds to the car ahead. Ensure you can stop within the visible area ahead.

  9 Avoid abrupt acceleration, braking and steering which can result in a skid.

10 Don't drive through deep water. It could damage your car and possibly cost you your life.

11 If you have no option but to drive through such water, then drive slowly in a low gear, holding the steering wheel steady.

12 After driving in heavy rain allow your brakes to dry - especially if your vehicle has drum brakes.

13 If you experience car/bike trouble turn on your hazard lights and try to move completely off the road. If possible, ensure that you have a reflective warning triangle to erect some distance behind your vehicle.

The dangers of rapid, flowing water on our roads: List provided by Arrive Alive 

  • Flowing water applies pressure to contact areas. The higher the speed the higher the pressure.

  • With water that is 1m high it will flow out at a speed of 4.47 meters per second or 16km/h.

  • Water that has fallen only 0.4m reaches a speed of 3.2km/h and can sweep a car off a road bridge.

  • When water touches the underside of a vehicle, depending on the strength of the flow, it can lift a vehicle and even carry it away.

  • A water depth of only 0.6m can float a car.

READ: AA - 'Road safety is literally in your hands'

Johan Jonck from Arrive Alive says: "A major problem is that motorists and drivers are not aware of how little fast flowing water it takes over a low water bridge for a vehicle to be swept away.

"We also tend to assume, at our peril, that the road surface is still intact. Do not take chances and obey road signage. The fact that a double cab 4x4 vehicle manages to cross, is no guarantee that your vehicle would as well! When in doubt, don't!"

Insurance and driving through water

Arrive Alive reports that the Ombudsman for short-term insurance, Brian Martin, said: “Driving through pools of standing water, which may span across the road, could lead to the potential exclusion of damage to an engine, if water is ingested into the engine.

“Consequently, if your engine is damaged through water getting into the engine without other damage to the vehicle, your insurer may decline liability for any claim for damage to the engine itself. This could leave you facing a very hefty bill." 

READ: Car insurance in SA - 'A necessity, not a luxury'

Tyres vs. standing water

Check the condition of your tyres: Complete loss of adhesion to the road’s surface can come from a combination of smooth tyres and high speed. This causes aqua-planing, with possibly tragic consequences.  

Even with new or barely worn tyres, reduce your speed in the wet and increase the following distance to the vehicle ahead of you.

The dangerous practice of regrooving tyres, which consists of cutting a pattern into bald tread to extend tyre life, should be avoided at all costs. Regrooving the tyre has the effect of exposing the tyre casing, breakers or belts, which can cause the tyre to fail, running the high risk of a crash.

The South African Road Traffic Act prohibits the use of a tyre so worn or damaged that the cord or fabric used in its construction is exposed. The Act also states that the tyre tread should be clearly visible and must be at least one-millimetre deep around the entire circumference of the tyre.

The tyre’s tread displaces water to provide the grip on the road. Smooth tyres’ wet-road grip decreases dramatically as speed increases. The stopping distance required will also increase as the tread pattern wears down. At 120km/h, in wet weather, the road grip of a new tyre can drop to 80%, while that of an almost smooth tyre plummets to 10%.

Motoring insurance

If you should find yourself travelling to parts of South Africa where Dineo is about to hit or if you are heading to Mozambique by car, Arrive Alive lists important points to take note of regarding travel insurance.

Herewith find a summary of the typical benefits under travel insurance cover from various providers:

  1 Emergency medical assistance:  Ensures the right medical advisers are consulted; appropriate medical treatment is provided; and any necessary, approved medical fees are covered should you fall ill or have an accident abroad.

  2 Emergency evacuation/repatriation and transportation: Should you or a stranded companion need to return to South Africa as a result of a medical claim, this covers the repatriation.

  3 Personal accident cover: Financial protection against disability and death – protecting yourself and those who depend on you against the worst.

  4 Personal liability cover: Protecting you against the cost of damage to a third party or property and even rental car damage excess.

  5 Travel Assistance: A helpline service available 24 hours a day, which will ensure your travel problems are dealt with as easily and conveniently as possible – including obtaining information about visas and inoculations; emergency medical evaluation and repatriation; return of mortal remains; transmission of urgent messages and legal assistance.

  6 Baggage and personal belongings protection: Cover for the loss, theft or accidental damage to your personal belongings or baggage; and the loss of theft of your personal money and documents. 

  7 Legal Expense: Cover should you need to seek legal counsel. 

  8 Trip cancellation/interruption 

  9 Overseas funeral expenses, burial, cremation or repatriation of your remains if you die abroad;

  10 Delayed departure & Delayed baggage (and emergency replacement of essential items) 

  11 Returning home family members who are stranded by your illness or death

  12 A visit by a family member if you are travelling alone and are hospitalised in a foreign country. (This will require the approval of a doctor appointed by the underwriter.) 

  13 Logistical peace of mind: Covers the reasonable additional expenses you incur from delays, or if you have to cancel or curtail your trip due to specific reasons, such as missed connections or a tragedy.

  14 Hijack and wrongful detention cover

For more on travel policies, visit Arrive Alive.

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