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Gerhard Horn: Wet-weather mayhem





3 February 2014


Last week I wrote about the trials and tribulations of getting to work in rush hour traffic. It was the worst traffic I had ever seen… Until today, exactly a week later.

Last week it was a truck accident, this week it was mother nature herself that turned my car into a crawling torture chamber. As Gauteng residents know, the taps in heaven opened up on Friday, but, unfortunately, someone forgot to turn them off.

Actually, I’m laying it on a bit thick, because I haven’t even left home yet. I woke up, saw the rain through the window and just knew it was going to be horrific out there. Luckily I took the time to check Twitter, which was already full of tips on which roads to avoid.

Unfortunately all of my possible routes were blocked. Seriously, there’s simply no way I can get to Johannesburg today. There are multiple accidents on the N1/N3 highway and the N14 has a river flowing over it. According to trusted sources on Twitter, traffic is blocked-up all the way from the R511 to the R55.

I know what the problem is. When it gets to the business of driving in a flooded area, there are three kinds of people.

The first kind is the person who has no idea what his car is capable of. Last week I saw a few of these guys driving on Malibongwe. The rain was bucketing down and a makeshift dam was forming in the left lane. It was no more than 30 centimetres deep, but people kept on pushing into the right hand lane to avoid the water.

I get that. If you drive a Uno Turbo with a dropped suspension, it would be wise to avoid the water. Problem is, I saw a few guys in 4x4s doing the same thing…

Why would you do that? A proper 4×4 is designed to wade through an actual river, so a glorified puddle in the middle of the city shouldn’t be an issue.

Then you get the guys who think their car is capable of just about anything, so crossing a flooded area shouldn’t be a problem. While smirking at the cautious guys who weren’t willing to get their proper 4x4s a bit wet, I saw a dropped Volkswagen Golf attempting to drive through the deep-end of the previously mentioned glorified puddle. He made it through, but the Golf’s engine lasted a mere 30 metres before it blew up spectacularly.

The third group of people know what their car is capable of and use it accordingly.

It seems as if the flooding isn’t going to stop anytime soon, so if you’re reading this, you’d better make up your mind about which group you want to be a part of.

Don’t end up like the motorists in the photo above. It was taken by our editor, Jannie, in Irene a few weeks ago. It’s a collection of number plates from cars that exceeded their wading limits when the bridge near the four way crossing flooded.

Imagine the walk of shame to collect your number plate afterwards. It’s no wonder most of them were left by the side of the road.