Tips for driving in challenging conditions

How to stay safe driving through protest action or crazy weather

We are proudly South African, we love our country and we love how much space we have. There are many diverse areas and countless roads to explore. South Africa has unique driving experiences resulting from natural events and political issues that result in challenging conditions. We have some of the worst traffic in the world and certainly Africa. In TomTom’s most recent traffic report all of South Africa’s major cities appeared on the list, the only other non-South African entrant was Cairo in first place, followed by Cape Town.

The cause of our traffic congestion nationally stems from multiple sources including but not limited too loadshedding, service-delivery protests, road works, faulty traffic lights, and many accidents. Add in natural weather events and we do have unique, and sometimes challenging, driving conditions from torrential summer rainfall in the Highveld to bush fires in the arid Western Cape. MasterDrive’s Eugene Herbert has some advice on how to drive safely in these unique circumstances.

Driving through protest action:

protest action | tips | driving | South Africa | challenging conditions

It can be scary driving through protest action. It is essential that the driver stay calm, a stressed driver makes bad decisions that can make the situation worse. If you know of protest action taking place on your route home consider taking an alternative route, even if it’s longer or congested. If you have no alternative route the key when driving through this is to be prepared and thinking ahead, these tips from Masterdrive will help you:

  • Watch 12 seconds ahead of you so that you can identify any volatile situations immediately
  • If you are forced to stop or slow down, identify an escape route
  • Do not engage with protestors negatively
  • If you want to get away from the protest, remain calm. Taking aggressive evasive action that does not account for other drivers or people can be more dangerous than acting calmly and slowly, especially if protestors are peaceful
  • Listen to authorities who are trained to defuse the situation and direct traffic flow

Driving through torrential rain:

driving in the rain | tips | driving | South Africa | challenging conditions

The summer rainfall areas in South Africa can pose a driving challenge, potholes appear where they weren’t a day before, roads become flooded and slippery leading to accidents. Follow these tips from MasterDrive when driving in wet weather to make your commute easier:

  • Give yourself more travel time so you do not have to rush in bad weather
  • Do not slow down unnecessarily as this is just as dangerous as speeding
  • Brake earlier and with more caution.
  • Leave more following space
  • If you hydroplane, slowly lift your foot from the accelerator but DO NOT brake harshly or move your steering wheel violently
  • Use traffic apps to help identify potholes which may not be visible in heavy downpour or on flooded roads.

Driving through a veldfire

Bush fire | veldfire | driving | tips | South Africa

The dry summer areas experience an unprecedented number of veldfires from November – March. Along with trying to contain the extent of damage and limit the spread of the flames, the smoke from these fires often causes road closures adding to traffic woes. MasterDrive has these helpful tips when driving through smoke from a veldfire:

  • While it is recommended to always drive with your headlights on, ensure they are on to improve visibility
  • If the smoke is extremely thick do not attempt to drive through it. You risk collisions or driving off the road
  • Do not exit your car. It will provide the most protection from heat and smoke
  • Stay low in your car and keep the windows and vents closed while you wait for the fire to pass
  • If you need to stop, find a clearing or a section of the roadside that has low vegetation. Turn your ignition off and lights on


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