Driving on flooded roads during winter
During the winter months of South Africa, we often experience severe flooding that leaves some vehicles facing challenging or dangerous driving conditions. If you find yourself on the road during a strong rainstorm, Beekman Canopies wants to provide you with some advice on how to get out of this difficult scenario safely.
First and foremost, whenever possible, stay away from low-lying bridges, places prone to flash floods, and huge pools of water in the road. If you can’t avoid one of these scenarios, Beekman recommends doing the following.
Rainy day driving:
• Switch on your headlights.
• Adapt your speed to the situation. This includes slowing down if other vehicles have slowed down as well.
• Allow more time to respond if something goes wrong by leaving bigger following distances.
• Allow more time to stop or navigate around corners.
• When it’s raining, one of the biggest dangers is aquaplaning. Reduced speed is the most effective strategy to lessen the likelihood of this happening.
• If this happens, gently pull your foot off the accelerator, but don’t slam on the brakes or jerk the steering wheel.
• Don’t slam on the brakes if you start to slide. Continue steering in the desired direction without making any drastic changes.
• If the rain becomes unbearable and there is a petrol station or another safe place to stop, do so.
• Calculate the water’s depth. Avoid driving through water that reaches your tyre’s midsection or higher.
• Most drivers take the chance of driving through a puddle, but it’s easy to underestimate the depth. Roads that accumulate water are also more prone to collapsing and developing potholes.
• Drive in the centre of the road if possible, where the water is at its lowest.
• Be aware of passing cars’ off-spray, which can be blinding.
• It is impossible to determine the depth of fast-flowing water while driving.
• In the appropriate circumstances, even vehicles can be washed away.
• If you find yourself unexpectedly in fast-flowing water, drive gently and steadily through it in first or second gear.
• After you’ve passed through the water, lightly touch your brakes to dry them off.
• Do not restart your bakkie if you stall. Rather, have a mechanic check to see if any water has gotten into the engine.
When confronted with an unexpected flash flood:
• If your bakkie begins to lose traction on the road, open the door to let some water in, which may help to weigh the vehicle down and allow the tyres to regain traction.
• If you are at risk of being carried away, get out of the car as soon as possible if it is safe to do so.
• Be overcautious. Rather be safe than sorry.