How to drive in torrential rain

Summer rainfall areas provide challenging driving conditions, we’ve got practical advice to make driving in the rain easier

If loadshedding wasn’t enough to cause traffic choas we can add in torrential rain too. Weather warnings for above-average rainfall have been issued for parts of South Africa. Should you find yourself on the roads encountering heavy rain, follow these tips.

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, the managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says this is the least that you should do.

Rain season | Driving tips

Driving in rain

  • Aquaplaning is one of the biggest risks in rainy weather. Reduced speed is the best way to reduce the chances of this
  • If you hydroplane, slowly lift your foot from the accelerator but do not brake harshly or move your steering wheel violently
  • You also need to adjust your speed to conditions. Thus, if other vehicles have reduced their speed, reduce your speed as well
  • Leave larger following distances so that you have more time to respond if something goes wrong
  • Give yourself more time to stop or to go around corners
  • 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
  • Turn on your headlights
  • 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 roads which collect water are more vulnerable to collapse and it is easy to underestimate their depth
  • 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 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.


Images: MasterDrive & iStock