Paramedics plead with public to stay safe on wet roads

Sarah Kekana, of Netcare 911, urges drivers to be safe on wet roads. PHOTO: Supplied

Inclement weather poses significant dangers, increasing the likelihood of accidents. In response, Netcare 911 urgently urges drivers to recognise these risks. They provide essential tips to help prevent accidents when navigating rainy conditions and stay safe on the roads.

“Every year, emergency medical services see the tragic consequences of rainy weather on our roads, often due to drivers not realising that cars handle very differently on wet road surfaces,” says Sarah Kekana, Netcare 911 spokesperson.

Drivers need to prepare for various conditions by ensuring their vehicles are well-maintained. Regular checks, such as inspecting brake functionality, assessing wheel balance and alignment, and confirming adequate tread and proper tyre pressure, are crucial.

“When storms and heavy, rainfall strike unexpectedly, visibility is often diminished. In terms of the National Road Traffic Act, windscreen wipers must be kept in good working order. Drivers should regularly check their wiper blades and replace them as necessary,” Kekana says.

She also advises: “In such conditions, it is essential to exercise heightened caution and remain vigilant for potential hazards, including flooded roads and low-lying bridges, as well as other unforeseen circumstances”. Kekana also adds, “The most important principles of driving in wet weather are to reduce your speed considerably, keep a longer following distance from the car in front of you than usual and maintain visibility with your headlights on. Steer and apply brakes gently, indicate and maintain low RPMs or revs to minimise the risk of skidding.”

“One of the most frightening and unpredictable dangers of driving on wet surfaces is aquaplaning, where puddles on the road surface can cause your 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 explains.

“In wet weather, it is recommended that this is doubled to six-car lengths to allow enough time to safely slow down and stop in an emergency.” She also states that it is crucial to “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.”

Many preventable accidents occur each season due to individuals underestimating risks and jeopardising their safety. The cost of taking such gambles is too steep. It’s crucial to prioritise life and make the decision to stay safe on our roads.

Compiled by Warren Hawkins