The Rains are here with us again. 2 hours and 35 minutes in traffic for me this morning and I can tell you it is not the most exciting way to start a week. But well, when Mother Nature quivers, all we can do is to take measures to minimise our losses. So while in the thicket of the deluge, I thought up a few tips we can all use to keep safe during this season. These are tips I have used over the years driving on the motorway and in the inner city. I hope they work for you. This article is for road users in the major cities in Ghana…. But I believe some of you in other African countries can work with it, contingent on your peculiar traffic regulations.
1. If you are caught up in a heavy downpour while on the road, turn on your headlamps and your hazard lights. The blinking light will help other road users see you as a potentially distressed driver, making it easier for them to make allowances for you.
2. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. When the tarmac becomes wet, it gets slippery and your tyre's grip on the road reduces, making braking distances longer and skidding easier.
3. When driving by another car, honk at least twice. Do this whether you are over taking or driving in your separate lanes. The reason is that, due to poor visibility, the car you are overtaking or driving next to, may also want to change lanes and may not see you in time or react quickly enough, leading to a side by side bump or graze. When you honk, you prompt them to watch before they potentially switch.
4. Use only familiar routes. This will save you from running into ditches, opened culverts, uncompleted road works and a collection of potentially dangerous debris (like broken bottles and spiky scrap metals) all of which may be covered by running water.
5. Avoid driving at the fringes of the road towards the shoulders; this will save you from running into an uncovered gutter or culvert. Try your best to keep to the centre of the road but at the same time being in your lane.
6. Unless you must absolutely get unto the road, stay home or in the office or find a safe place to park, if your car's Air conditioner is not working. When it rains, the temperature outside drops, and in the short term, the temperature in the car stays high, causing the windows and the windscreen to have a steamy feel. This will affect visibility and distract you as you try to drive and at the same time clear the windscreen with your duster. This can be potentially dangerous to you and other road users. In a heavy downpour, you can actually glide off your lane without realising it.
7. Avoid aquaplaning. This is when you drive at a good speed through a collection of water in a section of the road. When you do that, your car literally flies over the water. Without a direct contact between the tarmac and your tyres, braking and steering becomes almost impossible. This easily leads to skidding and bump-ins. You also stand the chance of splashing a good deal of water unto pedestrians standing by the road side....or worse into someone's car with windows slightly opened to allow ventilation...due to malfunctioning AC.
8. Be sure your car is rain friendly and can make it home when it drives through the rains. For some reasons, some cars decide to embarrass their owners, or suffer their 'illness' when you drive them in the ticket of a bad rain-induced traffic. It just decides to sit in the middle of the road and goes to sleep. You distract traffic, and increase the potential for bump-in and grazing as people try to move away from the lane you have blocked. If it is sick, wait for the rains or the traffic to clear before you hit the road with it.
9. Keep your eyes on the road, drive slowly and observe all road traffic regulations.
10. Be considerate to other road users and avoid the strict implementation of the right-of-way policy. I know; you want to be law abiding citizen for once in your driving life. Easy bruv, it is raining. Better still, let everyone stay in their lane, and avoid the epileptic switching of lanes. It is Just traffic not a mad rush to Heaven's gate. Relax, you will get home soon and safely be with your wonderful family…hopefully….without a dent.
Keep safe, share this article and let us help each other during this period.