How to deal with heavy rain and the traffic chaos caused by load-shedding

10 December 2019 - 15:03 By AASA and Motoring Reporter
Rain and load-shedding can make driving a nightmare, and motorists are warned to be very vigilant on the roads.
Rain and load-shedding can make driving a nightmare, and motorists are warned to be very vigilant on the roads.
Image: : Surut Wattanamaetee / 123RF

The heavy rains in many parts of the country, along with unpredictable and frequent rolling blackouts, are a perfect recipe for traffic madness and motorists and pedestrians are urged to travel with caution. This is the message from the Automobile Association (AA), which  says motorists must be extra-vigilant while on the roads.

“Not only do motorists have to contend with flooding and heavy downpours which affect visibility, many traffic lights are out of service because of the bad weather. The problem is further exacerbated by rolling blackouts which mean many traffic lights and street lights aren’t working either, making driving not only tricky, but dangerous too,” warns the AA.

An added issue which has developed during the past few days is that potholes are occurring in places where they weren’t before.

“Small holes are now becoming large potholes and many motorists see these only when it’s too late. These may become problems for other motorists as drivers swerve to avoid hitting the potholes, creating a knock-on effect.

"If you are driving, be alert at all times, even if you have driven a specific route many times before. Road conditions not only change overnight, they can change within a few hours, so be prepared at all times for new obstacles,” says the AA.

The AA says with unpredictable rolling blackouts continuing for the foreseeable future, and with the rain not letting up, motorists and pedestrians should follow a few simple rules. These include:

  • When traffic lights are broken or off, treat them as four-way stops. Be calm, be respectful, take your turn, and be extra-vigilant for pedestrians who have lost their crossing time to cross safely.
  • Be visible. In the case of motorists, switch on your headlights. Pedestrians should wear reflective covering and avoid walking close to the road, especially at night.
  • Focus on the road. Put your mobile phone away, and don’t do anything but drive and focus on the road. Being distracted is dangerous in any weather, but especially so when the roads are wet, and when there is low visibility.
  • Ensure your windscreen and wipers are in good condition. If your wipers are not clearing the rain from the windscreen, have them replaced. Do it as a matter of urgency.
  • Drive to the conditions of the road, not the indicated speed limit. Driving 120km/h on a highway may be legal, but it may not be safe, particularly if heavy rain is diminishing the view of the road ahead.
  • Do not attempt to cross low-lying bridges – even if you have crossed them in the past – as these may have deteriorated.
  • Check that all your tyres (including the spare) are in good condition. If you have any doubts, have an expert inspect them and replace them if necessary. Driving with worn tyres in wet weather is dangerous for you and other road users.
  • Be calm in the traffic, even if it takes longer to reach your destination. Arriving late is better than not arriving at all.
  • Maintain a safe following distance, especially on highways.
  • Keep your mobile phone charged in case of emergency.
  • If you are able to avoid areas known to have issues when it rains hard, do so, and plan alternative routes.
  • Do not drive in the emergency lanes. Keep these open for emergency vehicles.

In addition, the AA warns people not to relax their vigilance if the weather improves.

“Even though the rain is expected to ease up in the next few days, roads will still be slippery. Traffic lights which are out and potholes which have developed will take a while to repair. Don’t assume because there’s no rain falling the danger has passed. It hasn’t. Given that rolling blackouts are continuing on an irregular schedule, the dangers of motoring are, for now, still very real.”