The South African Weather Service has cautioned of low temperatures and bad weather conditions across the country over the next few days. Cape Town is already battling cold and rain; Eastern Cape is expecting snowfall and Gauteng is preparing for sub-zero temperatures as well. This creates challenges for drivers but one can manage this. The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, provides some safety tips.
Frost and ice
- If the roads are icy, drive with extra caution
- Top up your anti-freeze and check that your tyres are properly inflated throughout winter
- Increase your following distances
- Brake more cautiously and well before time
- Drive around corners more slowly
- Do not use cruise control when the roads are slippery
- Adjust your speed to suit the conditions
- Be cautious in places where ice is common even if you cannot see it, like under bridges
- If you lose control do not panic but gradually slow down and steer in the direction of the skid
Many areas may experience sleet rather than full snowfall. This can create black ice. This is a thin layer of transparent ice on the road that forms when sleet or rain freezes as it hits the ground. It is difficult to see and very dangerous to drive over.
- Always be alert for black ice: it looks like glossy, slightly wet patches on the road
- Do not hit the brakes rather lift your foot off the accelerator
- Focus on keeping the steering straight
- Be careful of not over-steering
- Avoid areas that are prone to thick mist.
- Do not switch your lights to bright as it reflects off mist and reduces visibility even more
- Rather use fog lights or low beams
- Avoid using your emergency lights while still moving. Someone may think you are stationary when you are not
- Avoid sudden lane changes or erratic driving that another driver may not be able to react to timeously
- Do not pull over unless you can get well off the road and then switch on emergency lights
Follow many of the driving tips provided for driving in frost and ice such as increasing following distances and reducing your speed.
- Give yourself more travel time so you do not have to rush in bad weather
- Ensure your headlights are still on
- Avoid water which has pooled on the roads.
- If you cannot avoid it, drive through it slowly in case there is hidden debris or potholes
- If you hydroplane, slowly lift your foot from the accelerator but do not brake harshly or move your steering wheel violently
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