Best driving techniques: Torrential downpour and heavy winds

Torrential downpour and strong winds caught many South Africans off-guard as it wreaked havoc in parts of Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal over the past few days, leaving thousands displaced, hospitals partly destroyed and schools shut down.

It’s important for the safety of you and your loved ones, to be prepared in situations such as these – you never know when you may encounter a torrential downpour and heavy winds while driving. Know the correct driving techniques to ensure that you and your loved ones arrive safely.

  1. Driving in the rain? Slow down
This may seem rather obvious but it’s frightening how many motorists don’t follow this important rule. First and foremost, decrease your speed and increase following distance. Going slower will give you more time to spot and react to rainy road conditions and other vehicles.
  1. Keep your focus
To avoid getting into an accident, be aware of other motorists on the road and pay attention to the task at hand. That means turning off your cellphone, the radio and getting rid of any other distractions in the car.

As you drive, take careful measures to stay out of the blind spot of other vehicles, particularly trucks and tractor trailers.
  1. Be careful of grease effects
The longer a road goes without rain, greater the chance of slick conditions during a downpour. This is especially true at intersections and other places where vehicles tend to come to a stop regularly. As cars pass through these areas under normal weather conditions, grease and oil drip onto the pavement. When the rain hits these collections, the road can become slippery — fast. It may take several hours for the rain to wash away the greasy patches; in the meantime, approach areas that could be slick with extra caution, take turns slowly, and brake early.

CPR Technique – Correction, Pause, Recovery

If the rear of your car loses control, take your foot off the accelerator. Then turn the steering wheel in the same direction that the back is moving (e.g. if the rear end is fishtailing to the right, turn to the right). Pause for a moment to allow the car time to react to your move, then turn the wheel in the opposite direction. This technique is called the CPR technique and will help you regain control of the car.
  1. Don’t use cruise control
If you have the cruise control on, this may work against you. If your cruise control is set at 105km/h and you are heading into a rainy area, the system will try to maintain that speed. If the car starts hydroplaning, the computer system may try to speed up when you actually want to slow down.
  1. Brake Away
Stopping on a wet road will usually take longer than usual, so start braking earlier than what you usually would on a dry road. Also, you can avoid skidding by pressing the brakes while your car is pointed straight ahead. If you are going around a corner and brake, chances are that the car may spin, so where possible, anticipate a corned ahead of time. Slow down before you get to the corner and take the corner slowly.