Driving on storm damaged roads

Weather that swept over the Southern part of the country last weekend left devastation in its wake. Drivers are contending with flooded, flood-damaged and obstructed roads. While repairs are underway this creates challenges as there are only so many days, if any, that one can avoid driving.

The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says avoiding roads where you cannot be certain of your safety in passing, is not optional but a necessity. “Even when you take alternative routes to avoid dangerous roads, you will likely encounter driving scenarios which require extra care and experience.

“Storm damaged roads are also becoming a common occurrence in South Africa. Repairs can take quite some time creating more challenges from extra traffic to driving on roads resembling muddy offroad tracks,” says Herbert.

The following tips can assist when driving on storm damaged roads:

Flooded roads

These have mostly dissipated but if you come across large puddles of water, rather avoid crossing. “One cannot be sure if there is a pothole or other items that washed into the road during the floods, under the puddle. Consider that the structural integrity of a road may be compromised following extreme weather as well,” says Herbert.

Flood damaged roads

It goes without saying that rapidly flowing water where roads previously were, should not be driven on. “Yet, what about those with small streams of water flowing across or are just sand and mud now that the water is gone? Drivers of 4x4s (with the necessary experience), that can see a path clear of deeper holes or debris can likely cross.

“Most other vehicles have higher risk. It only takes 15cm of flowing water to lift certain vehicles from the ground. Misjudging a stream’s depth is a costly and dangerous mistake. If the area previously had flood water, even a 4×4 can run into trouble with mud. If you cannot be certain the road is safe to cross – do not,” says Herbert.

Closed roads

Drivers running late or fed up with extra traffic, may be tempted to drive around road closures. “The solution is simple. Drivers know roads are affected; thus, plan routes based on publicised road closures and add extra travel time. With realistic expectations, avoidance of road closures and extra time, there is substantially less desire to take the risk,” says Herbert.

Obstructed roads

Certain obstructions do a better job at barricading a road. “If, however, the obstruction leaves a portion of road open, there are safety tips to remember. Rather avoid areas prone to falling rocks. If you need to drive in the opposite lane to pass, all normal defensive driving and laws apply, such as not driving around a blind corner. Adjust your speed to the conditions. Once roads are cleared, still be cautious of debris still falling or left behind.

While clean-up and repair work is underway, drivers must do their part to avoid worsening the situation or causing unnecessary injury or loss of life,” says Herbert.


Sign up to receive our newsletter in your inbox, every month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Verified by MonsterInsights