The South African Weather Service has issued two more warnings for heavy rains and thundershowers in parts of the country on Tuesday.
Saws issued a Yellow Level 2 warning for severe thunderstorms and possible heavy rains over the central and eastern parts of both the Free State and North-West, the extreme south-western parts of Limpopo, the northern parts of Gauteng, the western and central parts of Mpumalanga Highveld, and the eastern and southern parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
Saws warned that this could lead to localised flooding.
Meanwhile, an Orange Level 5 warning for severe thunderstorms has been issued for the eastern parts of the Free State, the south-eastern part of the North-West Province, Gauteng Highveld, the extreme southern parts of Mpumalanga, and the north-western parts of KZN.
“This could lead to excessive lightning and localised flooding of roads, settlements, and low-lying areas. Other conditions may include large amounts of hail and strong, damaging winds,“ the forecaster warned.
Emergency teams are urging motorists to drive safely.
ALS Paramedics spokesperson, Garrith Jamieson, further urged motorists to keep their headlights on and ensure that they have ample time to get to their destination.
Netcare 911 spokesperson Sarah Kekana said every year, emergency medical services see the tragic consequences of rainy weather on the country’s roads, often due to drivers not realising that cars handle very differently on wet road surfaces.
Here are some tips to stay safe on the roads.
Aquaplaning – stay calm
Kekana said one of the most frightening and unpredictable dangers of driving on wet surfaces is aquaplaning, where puddles on the road surface can cause the car’s rear wheels to lose traction.
“The car’s revs suddenly increase, the steering feels light or unresponsive, and the back end of the car may start to drift uncontrollably,” she explained.
What to do:
Do not slam on the brakes, as this will make the situation worse.
Gradually release the accelerator.
Relax your grip on the steering wheel, but try to keep control gently.
Only apply brakes once you feel control return.
Keep your distance
“In dry conditions, it is advised to keep a following distance of at least three car lengths between your car and the vehicle in front of you. In wet weather, it is recommended that this be doubled to six-car lengths to allow enough time to safely slow down and stop in an emergency,” Kekana said.
“Maintain a safe distance from large trucks as their substantial wheels generate significant spray. Make sure that you can see their mirrors; otherwise, they can’t see you. Big heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses also take much longer to stop, especially in wet weather, and drivers should avoid attempting to cut in front of any other vehicle.”
Don’t take a chance
Avoid driving in heavy downpours or low-lying flood-prone areas as far as possible, and if you are travelling, check the weather forecast and local updates along your route. Even once the rain stops, approach standing water slowly and cautiously.
Often water may be deeper than it appears, and it takes surprisingly little water for a car to get stuck or washed away or for the engine to stop working. If there is flooding, do not cross low-lying bridges, even if you think your car can make it across.