Save it for a rainy day

It is amazing how people’s driving habits vary, some going much slower or faster than others, and how many get irritated by this variance in speed. Some drivers have a “need for speed”, often with disastrous consequences.

When it rains common sense tells us that visibility and traction is reduced, which requires one to adjust your driving style accordingly as reaction time and stopping distances increase.

There are numerous factors that influence safe driving habits, but in wet weather the following become even more important – visibility, traction, speed, and reaction time.

For maximum visibility it is essential to ensure that your car’s wiper blades are in good condition as these are exposed to the elements. Especially the sun’s UV rays and hot weather make the rubber susceptible to deteriorating and perishing, causing a dangerous smear effect across the screen which refracts light, making it impossible for the driver to see clearly. Blades should be replaced at least once a year, in time for the rainy season in your part of the country – summer in the north and winter in the south. Also ensure your wiper system’s water bottle is always full and add a water repellent liquid additive to it on a regular basis. These are readily available at accessory stores and helps not only in dispensing water quicker, but it reduces glare.

Fogging up of windows on the inside can be very dangerous as it limits outward visibility. If you are unsure on how to maximize the efficiency of the internal window demisters, refer to the handbook. To quickly demist the windscreen on the inside, use it in conjunction with the air conditioner, as the aircon dries out the air in the car. Use the aircon even in winter, but crank up the temperature setting for warmth.

Irrespective of good visibility, statistics have shown that a driver’s response time is a lot slower in wet weather, when there is mist about, and at night.



We can never emphasize the importance of tyre condition and pressure enough. Worn tyres dramatically affect vehicle control in the wet. Traction can be severely compromised by many factors, one being an extended period of dry weather during which times significant amounts of rubber, sand, dust oil, fuel and other types of debris build up on the road surface. This can destabilize the surface and can turn into a slippery mess even with the least amount of moisture on the roadway when the rains start.

Replacing tyres are generally regarded as a grudge purchase, but one should never compromise on quality versus price. If at all possible, replace the tyres on your car with the same specification grade and even make it came with from the factory, as Toyota’s engineers have chosen that’s specific tyre combination after careful consideration of various factors such as safety, handling, performance, durability and comfort.

The European Union (EU) have instituted new tyre regulations stipulating that all tyres display a label which denotes an A to G rating for grip and braking performance in wet weather, with A having the shortest braking distances and G the longest. At a speed of 80km/h the grade can affect the stopping distances in an emergency by as much as an extra 18 metres, which could mean coming to a standstill with perfect safety or having a disastrous accident. Drivers of four-wheel drive vehicles should be even more conscious of this – generally these vehicles are heavier, and the off-road tyres may have a more aggressive tread pattern which is not necessarily conducive to sudden or emergency braking.

On wet roads a useful tip is to drive in the same tracks of the vehicle directly ahead of you, as it would have dispersed some water off the road surface. This may avoid the risk of aquaplaning, which is caused by the tyres being unable to disperse the water fast enough and for the tyre to make direct contact with the roadway.

Since speed is regarded as one of the major contributing factors to road accidents, and given that visibility is reduced in wet or adverse weather, reaction times are delayed and stopping distances compromised, it all add up to all the more reason that driving styles are adapted by a more careful approach in the use of the accelerator, the brake pedal and steering input. All sudden action on any of these parts could destabilise your car. The long and the short of it is to ensure your car is always prepared to cope with the any type of conditions you may encounter, and to adjust your mindset to “it may take longer to reach my destination safely”.

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