Safe driving tips for hazardous road conditions

As the icy chill of winter descends, it brings with it long hours of darkness and a slew of hazardous weather conditions in various parts of South Africa. According to Arrive Alive, research in the United States found that nearly a quarter (24%) of road accidents take place in poor weather.

Foul weather can have several adverse effects on safe driving from decreased visibility to poor tyre traction, which can lead to reduced steering control or the ability to bring a vehicle to a quick stop. While we might not experience the extremes of snow and ice of the northern hemisphere, safe driving in high winds, rain, fog, sleet, smoke from fires, or poor light, necessitate a conscious change in driving technique.

Plan ahead and allow time for a longer drive

While it’s best to avoid being on the road in extreme weather, those who make their living from driving may not have the liberty of postponing a trip. But they can plan ahead to ensure that they get to their destination safely. The need to drive extra carefully and slowly in poor weather means that drivers are likely to spend more time on the road than they would in better conditions. Leaving earlier will also allow drivers to take regular rest stops and reduce the need for them to speed to reach their destination on time.

Stay alert and take it slow

All the rules that apply to safe driving apply to driving in adverse weather, but doubly so. It’s essential to use all your senses to stay alert to any dangers in these conditions. Turn off your radio, turn on your headlights to make your vehicle more visible and turn down the heating to avoid drowsiness. Keep your eyes on the road and both hands on the steering wheel.

Increase your distance from other vehicles to allow time and space to react or brake, bearing in mind that it takes longer to come to a stop on slippery roads. It’s also important to apply the brakes steadily. Sudden braking can lead to skidding and if there’s poor visibility, it’s likely that the person behind you is following your tail lights, so you want to give them ample warning that you are slowing down.

Vehicle maintenance a must for safe driving

Aside from regular vehicle maintenance, it’s advisable to conduct a pre-trip inspection. If you are going to be on the road in bad weather, you want to ensure that windscreen wiper blades aren’t worn down, your brakes are in peak condition and you still have sufficient tread on your tyres. Also make sure that your tyres are correctly inflated, over- or under-inflated tyres are more likely to lose traction. Check the battery and make sure your headlights, tail lights and side mirrors are clean. It’s good to be prepared and to be careful, but unfortunately, accidents are sometimes unavoidable.

At Avis Fleet, we offer our customers total peace of mind that if something does go wrong, we’ll be there to help every step of the way. Our comprehensive fleet management solutions take the sting out of dealing with unforeseen circumstances. Have a look at our accident management solution to see how we can help you.


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