A weather warning was issued across parts of South Arica cautioning drivers to be aware of icy conditions and even snow. While drivers in other parts of the world may put their snow tyres on, the rarity of snow here makes this highly unlikely. If you are expecting snowfall or if you are planning to take a drive to catch a glimpse of the snow, here are some tips to keep in mind, courtesy of the MD of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert:
- Defensive driving is what will help you avoid landing in a dangerous position.
- Check that your tyres are properly inflated.
- Ensure your anti-freeze is adequately topped up.
- Gently test your brakes to judge how slippery the road is.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on slippery surfaces.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly to maintain traction and avoid skidding.
- Drive slowly and give yourself more time: it takes more time to accelerate, decelerate and stop.
- Increase your following distance to eight to 10 seconds.
- Avoid stopping where possible and rather start moving while still rolling as there is less resistance to stopping.
- Accelerating up a hill can cause skidding. Rather gain speed before the hill and slow down when you reach the top.
- Never stop halfway up the hill.
- Switch your headlights to dim. Do not use fog lights as it makes it difficult for oncoming cars to see.
- Do not use sport mode.
- If you start to spin stop accelerating and let the car slow naturally. Do not brake as it will extend the skid. If you start spinning, steer in the direction of the spin until it is safe to straighten.
- Avoid driving habits which are dangerous in normal conditions: distracted, fatigued and drunken driving.
Many areas may experience sleet rather than full snowfall. This can create an even more dangerous situation on the roads, in the form of black ice. This is a thin layer of transparent ice on the road which forms when sleet or rain freezes as it hits the ground. It is very difficult to see and you can be at its mercy once you hit it. If you find yourself on black ice:
- Always be alert for black ice: it looks like glossy, slightly wet patches on the road.
- Do not hit the brakes and focus on keeping the steering straight.
- Lift your foot off the accelerator.
- Be careful of not over-steering.
Also read: How to drive through misty conditions