Wet weather driv­ing

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Sport/leisure -

But what hap­pens when the next per­son can­not be seen or can­not see you? A cat­a­strophic event will oc­cur.

For se­cu­rity and safety rea­sons, im­ports from Ja­pan come with pri­vacy/tinted glass on back win­dows only. In Zim its not re­ally po­liced be­cause per­haps they haven’t seen any need to so peo­ple tint their win­dows with some re­ally dark tint that makes you won­der if the peo­ple see any­thing at night. Oth­ers also tint their head­lights and tail lights dark for that “cool” fac­tor, es­pe­cially the young folk and the young at heart. But some­times they tint them too dark. Cars look “cool” like that and its one of those cus­tomi­sa­tions one can “DIY” on their car but how safe is it? Dark win­dows re­duce vis­i­bil­ity. In misty weather and rains you can barely see the next per­son driv­ing on your side, what more with dark win­dows.

Tinted lights are also slowly be­com­ing a men­ace to our so­ci­ety. They are also “cool” if done right but what’s the point of you hav­ing lights when the next per­son is not go­ing to see your turn sig­nals be­cause they are too dark? It de­fies the whole pur­pose of hav­ing lights. All these lead to cat­a­strophic events like I men­tioned ear­lier. So if you have these, how well pre­pared are you for the rainy sea­son? How well can you com­mu­ni­cate with the next per­son who is driv­ing be­hind you or in front of you? If you are go­ing to smoke your lights put a light film so that at least other driv­ers can see when you sig­nal or sim­ply buy after­mar­ket lights that are al­ready “smoked”.

In this part of the world, we can’t boast of any good roads. Cir­cum­stances be­yond con­trol I guess have led to the demise of our once nice roads. When the rains start pour­ing, they flood our city streets. Poor and blocked drainage sys­tems all mean we sud­denly need boats and not cars when it starts rain­ing be­cause the ar­gu­ment be­tween a flooded street and Ja­panese tyres is one that we can never win. I hate to say this but these Ja­panese cars are just too fast for some of us, some­times other driv­ers are care­less and speed through the flooded streets, for­get­ting that no mat­ter how fast you go, you will need to stop. In a pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cle we did talk about hy­droplan­ing, it’s near im­pos­si­ble to con­trol a car when it starts slid­ing on top of the wa­ter. Rainy sea­son needs you to have a good set of tyres with good tread depth so they can be able to scat­ter

wa­ter and still main­tain good trac­tion. Some of the used tyres com­ing into the coun­try are snow tyres with dif­fer­ent tread de­sign that will not even help your case in the rain.

Late mod­els cars how­ever, have things like trac­tion con­trol to help driv­ers in times when cars want to slide out of con­trol but we need not al­ways rely on them, it’s al­ways bet­ter to be safe than sorry. Avoid cruise con­trol in the rain, it de­lays re­ac­tion time in the event that you need to stop im­me­di­ately and in most cases you rarely see that far in the rain and when you need to stop you need am­ple re­ac­tion time.

A lot of us like low pro­file wide tyres and a nice set of rims. They are also “cool” to have be­cause they pro­vide good grip and bet­ter brak­ing power in dry weather but not so much in wet weather. Wider tyres dis­trib­ute the weight of a ve­hi­cle over a larger sur­face area as com­pared to thin­ner tyres and that makes hy­droplan­ing a higher pos­si­bil­ity. How­ever, from a less sci­en­tific point of view, fric­tion be­tween the road sur­face and the tyres is re­duced on a wet sur­face re­gard­less of the type of tyres. That sim­ply means what­ever you do, you need to slow down be­cause less fric­tion also means greater stop­ping dis­tance is re­quired than on a dry sur­face. It’s also wise to keep a good dis­tance be­tween your­self and the next per­son to ac­com­mo­date stop­ping dis­tance.

Pot­holes and low pro­file tyres are a bad com­bi­na­tion

for your pocket. They are more ex­pen­sive and more sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age. More-so, low pro­file tyres are made stiffer than nor­mal tyres and they don’t flex much and so they don’t have much of that cush­ion­ing fac­tor like nor­mal tyres. When you do hap­pen to fight with pot­holes that pop up ev­ery­where when it rains, it’s a fight you won’t win. Usu­ally peo­ple run­ning on low pro­file tyres ex­pe­ri­ence tyre and rim dam­age more dur­ing this sea­son.

Again, the art of driv­ing is all about vis­i­bil­ity. Vi­sion and wipers work hand in glove. Wiper blades are ex­posed to all kinds of harsh weather con­di­tions and some­times you don’t even use them for the bet­ter part of the year. Its good to reg­u­larly check them for wear and tear, es­pe­cially as the rainy sea­son ap­proaches be­cause when you need them, you need them badly. Sim­ple checks can in­crease the safety stan­dards on our roads. There’s a sim­ple wiper blade test that’s com­mon. Take a cup of wa­ter and add a tea­spoon of flour then splash it on your wind­screen and see how well the wipers clean out the mess. The re­sult de­ter­mines how well your wipers will also help you main­tain good vis­i­bil­ity in the rain.

Its rainy sea­son now and it just hap­pens to be the fes­tive sea­son. Let’s take some time to prep our cars for the rains, don’t over­look the sim­plest of things, some­times they mat­ter the most. Let’s cre­ate a safer driv­ing en­vi­ron­ment for all of us, let’s pre­serve life. Till next time . . . drive safely!

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