Tips for travelling in adverse weather conditions

26 Jul 2011

As many parts of the country are gripped in icy conditions, a number of major arterial routes will be affected and motorists are urged to exercise extreme caution to ensure their safety. Snow in South Africa is relatively rare and as such, vehicles and motorists are ill equipped to handle what is a very dangerous driving condition.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has issued the following advice:

Before setting off:

  • As far as possible avoid driving in extreme weather conditions. Delay your journey until the conditions improve.
  • Ensure your vehicle is a roadworthy condition: tyres, lights, brakes and wipers should be checked before setting off. Tyres, especially, should have sufficient tread and grip to handle slippery conditions.
  • All windows, mirrors and lights should be clean before setting off.
  • Make sure that you have sufficient fuel to cover any eventuality (delays in traffic or deviations).
  • Your radiator should be topped up with anti-freeze.
  • Fan-belts should not be lose as it can lead to overheating in slow traffic and can also cause the battery not to charge further increasing the risk of a breakdown.

On the road:

  • Be alert and refrain from using any hand held device whilst driving.
  • Reduce speed and leave plenty of room to stop (should your vehicle skid or slide).
  • Be extra careful on bends, hills, bridges and infrequently travelled roads which will freeze first.
  • Keep an eye on all traffic, especially if you need to avoid vehicles that may be out of control.
  • Switch your headlamps on, but not on bright mode and where applicable use the fog lamps.
  • Use low gears to keep traction but be careful of spinning tyres in a panic.
  • Do not use cruise control on wet or icy roads.
  • If you experience a skid: do not panic, do not touch the brakes, gently steer the vehicle in the direction you want it to go.
  • If you get stuck, do not spin the wheels, you will only dig in deeper. Turn your wheels from side to side to push the snow out of the way and shovel some gravel to get traction. Shift from reverse to forward and back again.

Whatever happens:

  • Do not panic.
  • Make sure that your cell phone is fully charged and keep in touch with emergency services and your loved ones.

“We appeal to all road users to exercise caution and not to take any unnecessary risks. Even if you are driving a car fitted with the best of active and passive safety features, be constantly aware of your surroundings. Owners of off road vehicles, particularly, should not hazard a risk,” said Mr Collins Letsoalo, Acting CEO of the Road Traffic Management Corporation.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation has established a Mobile Broadcast Unit that will be broadcasting from the affected areas on the N3. Road users may call 083 343 9565 or 071 680 3448 (all hours) for any information regarding road closures, alternative routes, weather patterns, emergencies and tips on driving in adverse conditions. 

Ashref Ismail
Cell: 071 680 3448