The South African Weather Service has issued a warning of high winds along parts of the N3 Toll Route on Thursday, Friday and Sunday this week.
Snowfall is currently expected on Friday and Saturday along the Dihlabeng, Maluti a Phofung and Phumelela districts. This includes a section of the N3 Toll Route from Van Reenen’s Pass to Warden.
High winds, and the increased possibility of snow, may affect road conditions and the flow of traffic, causing congestion and delays, and the possible closure of sections of the N3 Toll Route in the interest of safety.
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Arrive Alive has the following tips for driving in these conditions.
What are the risks of driving in strong winds?
Many of us have experienced that startling moment when it feels as if there is an external force having an impact on our ability to steer the vehicle and remain on a straight path of travel. The impact of strong winds presents some unique challenges:
- When driving in exposed areas, sudden gusts of wind could catch you off your guard when bouncing against your vehicle.
- High winds get under a car, affecting the handling and braking significantly.
- When overtaking large, heavy vehicles, strong winds could result in a sudden gust from the side as you pass by.
- Large vehicles are blown around easily as they become a sail in the wind, drivers struggling to keep them inside their lanes.
- Vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, and people on horseback are easy targets to be moved into the path of other road users by strong winds.
Steering and controlling of a vehicle in high winds:
- Keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel and both eyes on the road.
- A firm grip with both hands is required when the wind begins to move your vehicle, especially if you are driving a large vehicle or towing a trailer.
- Reduce speed/ Slow down!
- At a reduced speed, you have more time to react and avoid hazards such as debris or other road users straying out of their lames.
- In mountainous areas and bends expect there to be debris from the strong winds around every corner.
- Be prepared and able if you are required to make a sudden stop.
- At a slower speed, you will also have better control of the vehicle.
- The faster you drive the further off-course you’re likely to drift in a sudden gust before you regain control of the vehicle.
- Keep extra distance between you and the car in front – consider increasing the two-three second rule to 5 or 6 seconds.
- This is especially important when following trucks, buses, or all vehicles towing trailers and caravans.
- If you see a truck driving ahead that is losing its load, give it a wide berth.
- Turn on headlights as you may encounter potentially lower visibility created by blowing dust, sand, snow or rain.
- Be ready to make steering corrections when driving from wind-protected areas to unprotected areas.
- Be extra defensive near trucks and give them some extra space.
- Only overtake if you need to and you are convinced that you can do so safely.
- Do not panic or turn your wheel quickly or suddenly, make only smooth and gentle movements.