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Stay safe on the winter roads

When you’re on the road, bad weather may bring with it reduced visibility, steering ability, and traction. You’ll also need more time and space when braking to a stop. Sadly, ER24 paramedics are all too familiar with the increased number of road accidents in adverse conditions. Wet roads reduce tyre traction, which may cause skidding and sliding. During a rain shower, oil on the road (spilt from vehicles) also gets loosened, creating an unexpected slippery surface.

“The best way to be safe in extremely wet, windy weather is to avoid driving at all,” says Grant Stewart, ER24 Branch Manager at the North Metropole, Western Cape. But if you have to get behind the wheel, bear these tips in mind.

  1. Turn on your headlights to see and be seen.
  2. Slow down. Make turns as gently as possible, and don’t apply the brakes any harder than necessary. Don’t pass slower vehicles unless you really have to.
  3. Make space. Keep a longer following distance and watch far enough ahead to maintain a steady speed without having to slam on brakes.
  4. Beware of puddles and oil patches that make the road more slippery. Try to avoid them if possible – or drive through slowly.
  5. Make sure your windscreen wiper blades are in a good condition and able to clean the screen without smudging.
  6. Your tyres should have adequate tread for better traction on the road.
  7. Brake lights, indicators, mirrors and headlights should all be in good working order.

Another option is to enrol in a defensive driving course. “Drivers who choose to do this learn to be aware of road and weather conditions, other vehicles, road users and potentially hazardous situations,” says Sidney Venter, ER24 Regional Manager of Central Region. “They also know what to do to avoid causing a road crash or becoming involved in one. Of course, it’s critical that you don’t think you’re Lewis Hamilton once you’ve completed the course!”