Motoring: How to ready your car for El Nino rains and stay safe

Most estates in Nairobi and its environs are known for flooding during rainy seasons. [Elivs Ogina, Standard]

The El Nino rains are here, as rightly predicted by the Kenya Meteorological Department.

From past experiences, floods have been known to cause havoc by disrupting normal operations, not forgetting getting most motorists, especially the inexperienced stranded.

What about the unending traffic gridlocks? Whether you drive a BMW or belong to the ‘footsubishi’ club, somehow, you can’t escape the snarl-up resulting from heavy rains on busy highways.

In this week’s motoring review, The Standard lists tips to keep motorists safe and alert during this rainy season.

Reduce speed

It is important to reduce your speed and maintain a safe driving distance from other vehicles. Roads can be slippery during rain, and it takes longer to stop or slow down.

Defog both windows (rear and front)

Use your car's defogging system to keep your windshield and windows clear and ensure good visibility. Avoid using clothes to defog the windows since it can disrupt your driving.

Use Headlights/Hazard

Turn on your headlights. Not a full beam.

This includes even during the day so that it can help increase your visibility to other drivers and help them see you.  Fog and hazard lights are recommended to alert other drivers to your presence.

Avoid cruise control

It is not advisable to use cruise control in wet conditions. As a motorist, you are supposed to have full control over your speed and be able to react quickly to changing road conditions.

Observe lane discipline

As the floods rage, water tends to accumulate on the edges of the road, it is key that a driver stays in the center lanes to avoid standing water, which can cause hydroplaning. Drive in the center of the road where the water is typically shallower.

Pullover if necessary

Better safe than sorry, if the rains persist, visibility is severely reduced, or you feel uncomfortable driving, find a safe place to pull over and wait until conditions improve.

Turn around

Do not attempt to drive through flooded roads, especially if you can't see the depth of the water. You risk being swept away.

Observe road closure signs

If a road is closed due to flooding, obey the signs and find an alternative route.

Watch out for puddles

Avoid driving through large puddles or areas of standing water, as they can conceal hazards or cause your vehicle to hydroplane.

Be mindful of other drivers

Anticipate the actions of other drivers and give them extra space and time to react. Not everyone has enough experience driving in the rain.

Be informed

Avoid at all costs driving in areas prone to flooding during heavy rain. Check the weather forecast and plan your trips accordingly.

Be prepared

Always carry with you, an emergency kit in your car that includes essentials such as a flashlight, and most importantly, an emergency triangle which must be placed within 10 minutes of stopping to warn of oncoming traffic.

Maintain your vehicle

Last but not least, ensure that your vehicle is in good condition, with properly functioning brakes, tires with adequate tread, and functional windshield wipers.