Expert tips on safe wet Cape winter driving
Winter, which officially starts this week, is the Cape’s wet season, which in turn makes it accident season. Paarden Eiland’s acciDent Guru however firmly believes that prevention is better than cure and to that end, CEO Paul van Wyk — the acciDent Guru himself — has a few tips to motorists ahead of the rainy months, on which he relies on hard earned experience for his advice.
The former Ford engineer and national championship rally driver knows what it takes to keep a car safe on the road whatever the conditions and he is happy to share that knowledge to help keep you safe on the road. “Prevention is better than cure,” van Wyk points out. “We so often have crashed cars towed in that have been involved in acciDents where they would normally have avoided the impact. “All it takes is a little inspection and perhaps some preventative maintenance to ensure that you have a better chance of avoiding an acciDent in the wet.
“Worn tyres are the biggest contributor to wet Cape winter car crashes — even Formula 1 cars stop to fit treaded tyres when it starts to rain and the heavier the rain, the bigger the treads,” the acciDent Guru points out. “Make sure your tyres are in good condition — new tyres have around 10 millimetres of tread and they will always work better in the wet. “Tyres should have 3mm tread according to the law, but even tyres worn to three or four millimetres are marginal in the wet — if you need to brake suddenly or swerve, worn tyres will lose grip and that can contribute towards you losing control of your car — and an acciDent…
“So rule number one in wet driving is to be sure that your tyres are in good condition and that they have adequate tread — if not change tyres now — good tyres are your most effective acciDent insurance,” van Wyk explains. Tyre condition spreads further than tread depth though — over-inflated tyres also have an effect on their traction in wet conditions: “Make sure your tyres are inflated to the recommended pressures — especially when driving in the wet.”
Next on your winter wet driving checklist is wheel alignment. “Alignment is another critical wet driving safety aspect that can have an adverse effect on how your car behaves in rainy conditions,” Paul explains. “Incorrect alignment can cause a car to skid more easily, so it is a good idea to also check and if necessary, have the alignment corrected.”
Visibility is another means to keeping safe on the road in wet conditions. “Many crashed cars come to us with rotten or worn wipers that no longer clean the windscreen correctly — that causes an obscured view, especially driving at night or against traffic with headlights on,” acciDent Guru van Wyk confirms. “New wiper blades are relatively inexpensive and easy to fit and make the world of difference to car visibility.
“Then, even if your wipers work well, misted-up windscreens or side windows are other risky aspects when driving in damp, cold conditions,” Paul warns “It is a good idea to wipe the windows before you drive off on a wet morning, while there are products available that one can wipe onto your car’s windows that create a chemical film to help prevent misting and unnecessary moisture build-up on your car glass in the first place — you can find those products and new wiper blades at your local spares shop.”
“Of course driving safely is a huge contributor to wet driving peace of mind and one area where you can really make a difference is behind the wheel. “Keep a safe following distance — up to twice or more that you would logically keep in the dry. “Your car also skids at far lesser speeds in the wet no matter how good the tyres are, so be sure to always drive within your and your car’s limits in rainy wintery conditions.
“So there you have it — driving in the rain is always a risky business, but it can be made so much safer by making sure that your car is in best possible condition and that you also drive accordingly,” Paul van Wyk, the acciDent Guru concluded. “Make sure your tyres are in good condition and pumped to the correct pressure; that your car’s wheel alignment is to specification and that the car is in roadworthy condition; that the wipers clean the windscreen efficiently and avoid driving with misted windows - and most important of all, drive safe!”
AcciDent Guru — the red building alongside the Swart River estuary at 56 Marine Dr, Paarden Eiland, Cape Town is an automotive body repair business with a modern approach to the Dent Repair Business using highly trained staff in a state of the art panel beating and spray painting facility run to top automotive engineering and Santam insurance standards. The home of carSave, acciDent Guru also specialises in saving cars from being unnecessarily written off and is the ideal destination, should your car require tender loving care after an accident or collision.
Contact acciDent Guru at 061 431 7371 or 021 510 1000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or any of acciDent Guru’s towing suppliers: Gardens Towing at 021 510 0380; Storms Towing at 072 221 9966 or Urban Towing: 072 604 5060.