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What to do when driving in strong winds

South Africa has been experiencing severe weather over the past week, with torrential rains in Gauteng and freak winds in Cape Town.

A video published by Times Live has shown just how dangerous this weather can be for motorists, with both a heavy truck trailer and a caravan being blown off a tall bridge in the Western Cape due to the extreme winds in the province.

Several municipalities have issued warnings for drivers to stay off the road, but in the event that it is absolutely necessary that you need to travel somewhere, it is important to know how to handle your vehicle while driving in this weather.

How to stay safe driving in extreme winds

According to Eugene Herbert, CEO of MasterDrive, strong winds can make it difficult to stay on a straight course on the road as it can affect the car’s handling, braking, and ability to overtake.

Herbert highlights that the larger the vehicle, the worse affected it will be by adverse weather conditions, so it is advised to avoid overtaking trucks and buses without leaving room to take evasive maneuvers if they start to lose control.

Similarly, avoid driving with a trailer if at all possible, and do not overload your car or drive with items sticking out of the windows in strong winds, as any of these things can magnify the effects of the wind, leading to a loss of stability.

On that note, it is very important that you plan your journey in advance if you are going out in extreme weather, so check the news, radio, or social media to see which regions may be worse affected than others.

Certain roads that are more exposed to the elements are dangerous when it is windy, such as mountain passes, tunnels, or roads that run parallel to electricity lines.

For example, a truck that recently fell over in the Western Cape was travelling along the N1 bridge leading up to the Huguenot Tunnel outside Paarl when a strong gust of wind blew its trailer over the side of the bridge.

Motorists should therefore avoid driving over high, exposed bridges, and always be alert for hazards or debris such as trees and downed power lines that may have been blown into the street by the weather.

Additionally, adopt a defensive driving style, and drive at a reasonable speed and following distance so that you have time to react to upcoming dangers while also being mindful of pedestrians or other cars that may be around you.

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