As the weather cools down in the region, wet mornings and blankets of fog become the norm. Here are three challenging situations you could face in such weather, and how you can overcome them to get to your destination safe and sound.
Aquaplaning or hydroplaning is caused when heavy rainfall causes a layer of water to build up between a vehicle’s tyres and the surface of the road beneath. This prevents the tyres from gripping the road and causes a lack of traction. Unable to steer, brake or accelerate, the driver loses control over the vehicle, a scary experience that can cause an accident.
Two other factors can worsen the situation – the speed of the vehicle and the condition of its tyres.
Tyres in excellent condition can cope with a fair amount of water when driving in such conditions. For tyres with a low tread clearing the water will be a struggle and worse still, they could encourage a build up of water beneath them.
Signs that your car is aquaplaning:
How to control a vehicle that’s aquaplaning
To begin with, (especially now that you have read this article and know better) don't panic. Stay calm and follow these tips:
Understand what could lie ahead, especially before a long-distance drive. Be prepared for spilt oil or mud on the roads. Look for and react to warning signs and alter your driving technique based on the weather and road conditions.
Your tyres have less grip on the road at higher speeds. Also, stopping distances can double on wet roads so maintain a fair distance from the vehicle ahead of you.
Check your tyres regularly and keep them properly inflated.
For wet conditions ensure that the tyre tread is way above 1.6mm
The car in front of you will leave ‘tracks’ in the water – where they have displaced some of the rainfall. Follow the tracks at a safe distance to reduce the chance of aquaplaning.
Even under normal circumstances sudden and extreme changes in direction are a bad idea. On wet roads, they can be twice as dangerous.
You get into your car one cold winter day and as you start the engine, the windscreen begins to mist up, impeding your vision. The cause, is YOU! Your body and breath heats up the water vapour in the air inside the cabin, increasing the amount of moisture it can contain. When this vapour makes contact with your windscreen, it cools, condenses and forms a mist.
If your car has a climate control system, you will soon be good to go. If not, here’s what you should do.
Use the heater
Start the heater off cold. Gradually increase the temperature as the air dries out, to prevent filling the interior with hot, ‘wet’ air.
Ensure the heater's blast is directed at the windscreen and the windows. The warm air will begin to dry the ice-cold glass and heat it up to prevent the water vapour condensing on it again.
Use the air-con or your windows
Use the air-con along with the heater. This will keep the atmosphere inside dry and prevent further condensation.
Alternatively roll down the windows and let the dry, cold air from outside reduce the amount of water vapour inside the car. Once the windscreen is cleared you can gradually warm up the car to a temperature that suits you.
Don’t drive off until all glass surfaces are clear as it is both dangerous and against the law to drive with impeded visibility. If the misting occurs while you are driving, pull over in a safe place and wait for your windows to clear.
DRIVING IN FOG
The difference between fog and mist, is visibility - how far you can see though them. If you can see less than 1,000 meters away, it’s fog. If you can see further than that, it’s mist. This reduced visibility issue is what makes fog lights so important.
Fog light symbol
Make sure you know where your fog-light switch is (usually on the dashboard, steering wheel stalk, or near the dial to control your regular lights).
Here's what fog light symbols look like:
Front fog light on the right
What should you do when driving in fog?
Using fog lights