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SEE: Lucky couple escapes as their SUV plunges down the gruelling Sani Pass - here's how to handle dangerous, snow conditions in SA

2018-07-20 15:00

Robin Classen

Image: Twitter

UPDATE: We've included tips for driving in snow at the end of this article

A KwaZulu-Natal couple escaped serious injury when the SUV they were travelling in veered off the Sani Paas near the Underberg early in July 2018.

The couple, Nathan and Bridget Renald, driving an Audi Q5, were heading down the snow-covered pass when the SUV slipped off the road. It then came to a stop some 15m below against some rocks.

Vehicle recovery efforts

Authorities were contacted and rescue efforts were underway to retrieve the stricken vehicle.

Here's how to drive in ice and snow on our roads

According to Berg Protection Services: "The couple were very fortunate to make it out of the car as it was balancing dangerously on one wheel at the top of the pass.

"They managed to stabilise the vehicle as cold and snowy conditions made it tough for vehicle recovery efforts."

Wheels24 acquired images of the stricken vehicle from SnowReportSA as well as details of the crash:

                                   Image: Richard Le Sueur/SnowReportSA

SnowReportSA said: "SnowReportSA's Rob Ansell assessed the situation later in the day after the accident but it was impossible to tell easily what the cause of the accident was. Sani Pass can often be icy, especially early in the day at places like Grey's corner where the accident occurred since it is in the shade. If this case it makes the gradient even more unforgiving."

                              Image: Colleen-Anne Boshoff/SnowReportSA 

                             Image: Colleen-Anne Boshoff/SnowReportSA 

Snow report SA's Rob Ansell speaking at the crash scene:

If snowfall is likely to fall in the area you're travelling through, here are some tips to keep in mind, courtesy of MasterDrive South Africa: 

• Driving defensively is what will help you avoid landing in a dangerous position.

• Check that your tyres are properly inflated.

• Ensure your anti-freeze is adequately topped up.

• Gently test your brakes to judge how slippery the road is.

• Do not use cruise control when driving on slippery surfaces.• Accelerate and decelerate slowly to maintain traction and avoid skidding.

• Drive slowly and give yourself more time: it takes more time to accelerate, decelerate and stop.

• Increase your following distance to eight to 10 seconds.

• Avoid stopping where possible and rather start moving while still rolling as there is less resistance to stopping.

• Accelerating up a hill can cause skidding. Rather gain speed before the hill and slow down when you reach the top.

• Never stop halfway up the hill.

• Switch your headlights to dim. Do not use fog lights as it makes it difficult for oncoming cars to see.

• Do not use sport mode.

• If you start to skid stop accelerating and let the car slow naturally. Do not brake as it will extend the skid.

• Avoid driving habits which are dangerous in normal conditions: distracted, fatigued and drunken driving.

 

Driving on black ice

Warnings have also been issued about black ice. Many areas may experience sleet rather than full snowfall.

This can create an even more dangerous situation on the roads, in the form of black ice.

This is a thin layer of transparent ice on the road which forms when sleet or rain freezes as it hits the ground. It is very difficult to see and you can be at its mercy once you hit it.

This is what you should do when you expect black ice:

• Always be alert for black ice: it looks like glossy, slightly wet patches on the road.

• Do not hit the brakes and focus on keeping the steering straight.

• Lift your foot off the accelerator.

• Be careful of not over-steering.

 Click here to access the SnowReportSA website.

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