How to drive on flooded roads

Source: Media release, MasterDrive South Africa, 7 February 2022, photo credit: 123RF/kvitajan

Parts of Gauteng and surrounding areas experienced heavy rainfall over the weekend which resulted in flooding. Roads were closed yet some motorists were still caught up in difficult or dangerous driving conditions. Should you find yourself on the roads encountering heavy rainfall, follow certain tips to emerge safely from this challenging situation.

First and foremost, avoid low-lying bridges, areas prone to flash floods or large pools of water in the road wherever possible. If, however, you are unable to avoid one of these situations, this is what the CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert says drivers should do.

Driving in rain

  • Turn on your headlights if they are not already on.
  • Adjust your speed to conditions. This includes reducing your speed if other vehicles have reduced their speed.
  • Leave larger following distances so there is more time to respond if something goes wrong.
  • Give yourself more time to stop or to go around corners.
  • Aquaplaning is one of the biggest risks in rainy weather. Reduced speed is the best way to reduce the chances of this occurring.
  • If this happens, slowly lift your foot from the accelerator but do not brake harshly or move your steering wheel violently.
  • If you start to skid, don’t slam on the brakes. Continue steering in the direction you want to go and do not make any harsh adjustments.
  • If the downpour becomes extreme and there is a petrol station or another safe place to pull over, rather do this.

 Pools of water

  • Estimate the depth of the water. Avoid driving through water which comes to the middle of your tyre or higher.
  • Most drivers risk driving through a pool of water but it is easy to underestimate the depth. Additionally, roads that collect water are more vulnerable to collapse and potholes.
  •  Where possible, drive in the middle of a road where the water is at its lowest.
  • Be prepared for off-spray from passing cars which can be blinding.

 Fast-flowing water

  • Never drive through fast flowing water, it is very difficult to judge its depth.
  • Even trucks can be swept away in the right circumstances.
  • If you are caught in fast-flowing water unexpectedly, drive slowly and steadily through while in first or second gear.
  • Once you are through the water, lightly touch your brake a few times to dry them off.
  • If you stall and you are not in danger of being swept away, do not restart your car. Rather get a mechanic to check that no water has made its way into the engine.

When caught in an unexpected flash flood

  • If you do feel your car losing grip with the road, open the door to let some of the water in which might help to weigh the car down and allow the tyres to grip the road again
  • If you are in danger of being swept away abandon the vehicle if you have an opportunity to do so safely.

Be overcautious. Rather be safe than sorry.

The South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) coordinates industry interventions and collaboratively manages risks in the value chain to enable the sustainability and profitability of pork producers in South Africa.