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How you can safely drive on muddy roads

Whether you like it or not you would have to go thru or use a muddy section of roadway sooner than later what with incessant rains over the South-West quarter in particular these days. Some muddy sections especially on steep roads that one finds in the upcountry can be particularly perilous as the Manager of Ury Group, Passara found out when he lost traction whilst negotiating a muddy patch that caused his old 30 plus year Isuzu Trooper to go off the road, hurtling down a precipice with his wife and daughter; thank God they escaped with relatively minor injuries whilst the old Isuzu Trooper was reduced to a twisted, mangled mass of steel!

Factors for losing tyre traction in the mud are numerous – apart from worn out tyres, over or under inflated tyres could also contribute to such mishaps; one should not over accelerate on 01st gear – that would worsen the situation; instead engage “2” if an Automatic Transmission [AT] or if Manual move in 2nd or 3rd gear, foot off accelerator whilst gently pumping brake pedal and steer towards the skid; easier said than done, one might say; so what to do when stuck? Read on.


What to do when stuck

 Avoid skidding on a muddy road by driving slowly and carefully, especially on curves! Steer and brake with a light touch before entering the bend/s. Usually, cars get stuck because the road is really boggy or just because earlier road users drove through uncaringly and made the road way too slippery. Some drivers are plain aggressive; they want to drive through the mud in high gears and with great force; this makes their cars dig deeper and the more cars, the more slippery the road becomes. So when driving through a muddy road, one should remain calm, ease their foot off the accelerator, and carefully steer in the direction they want the front of the car to go.

Drive on ‘high areas’:  Motorists should drive their tyres on the high areas of the road, not through potholes or channels as they are wetter and therefore more slippery. When you start to slide, turn your wheels into the direction of the slide and start pumping the brakes slowly; if you can’t stop and are heading off the road, turn the car as gently as possible away from the edge without accelerating; be warned that a sudden turn can turn the car over!


Manual and Automatic Transmission [A/T]

One should try a lower gear if in a manual geared car; certainly not 01st Gear as it’s too strong and the car will dig deeper; balance between 02nd and 03rd gear and this should be done very smoothly; the main point here is to avoid over accelerating in all muddy conditions, period! Experience has it that controlling automatic cars is harder. One doesn’t have control over the gears. But when driving through a muddy surface, one should use the gears below the (D) drive position; cars differ, but in most cases the gears below the D are the strongest gears in an A/T car. Use these gears with a light touch on accelerator.


Those with 4WD

For cars with a four-wheel drive mode, it is vital to engage the car in that mode before it gets onto any slippery surface. The car uses all its tyres with equal strength in four-wheel drive mode. But if engaged after getting stuck, the car might dig deeper because of the strength that comes with the mode. In the meantime when one realizes that it is too slippery or one is going downhill, they should actually take their foot off the accelerator. If one is driving uphill, over accelerating, only makes your tyres spin faster. Also do not over-brake; one should pump it slowly; the first step when completely stuck in the mud is to park; then calm down and get out of the car to survey the state of the ground as you plan on the easiest way out!


Stones and small logs to the rescue

Do get some stones, small logs and place them directly under the tyres with more focus on the driven tyres especially if your car is not a four wheel drive (front if its front wheel drive, rear if it’s rear wheel drive). Get back in the car, go forward very slowly; if your tyres start to spin, try to reverse interchangeably; rocking the car back and forth until your tyres hopefully grab. In case they don’t grab, you might have to try more logs and stones. As the cliché goes: forewarned is forearmed!


New Traffic related Fines from 15 July

‘Snippets’ supports traffic related fines to the hilt in backdrop of virtual anarchy on our roads. And things are certainly getting worse – don’t you agree? However, fines imposed by Traffic Police standing around somewhere is only partially effective. May I suggest that special teams of Traffic Cops should be in mufti and move around in unmarked nondescript vehicles with video cameras – like mobile CCTV – they could then see and capture the Law Breakers on our public highways with ease as traffic laws are broken literally every second when traffic is moving. Static Cops hardly see the real stuff on roads! Cops: Be smart and proactive!

Traffic Spot Fines in addition to the fine of Rs. 25K for seven serious offences such as for Drunk Driving, spot fines @ Rs.1,000/ each for: Non-Display of Revenue License, Non-use of Seat-Belts, Unauthorized driving Emergency Vehicles, Unauthorized driving vehicle loaded with hazardous waste [need more clarity here] and just a paltry Rs.1,000/- for Driving without a License – does this mean driving without a license or forgetting to bring along your D.L. Here again specifics are needed. If one drives any vehicle without a Driving License he/she should be immediately remanded and this serious offence should be considered ‘No Bail’. The Police must come down hard on scourge of driving sans a Driving License as they are veritable killers on our roads!

The root cause of preventable accidents are [a] when unscrupulous people obtain fraudulent Driving Licenses and [b] those aspiring to obtain DL are permitted to cheat at written exam with correct answers written by an impersonator and/or answers ‘provided’ [for a fee] before the written exam and the ‘Driving Course’ to include the ‘fee’ guaranteed to obtain DL – whether the driving hopeful could drive, leave alone reverse a car or not! So imposing fines for ‘Traffic Offences’ is like attempting to shut the Stable Door after the Horse has bolted!


Driving is not child’s play. Practice defensive driving, be aware and Do Drive Safe!