Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Driving Safely on Rainy Sumatra Days

Rainy weather road trip
This article has been updated on October 6th, 2018

     If you’re planning to drive in Bengkulu province or other areas of Sumatra this rainy season there may be more needed than a full tank of fuel. Roads in much of Sumatra are not great and can be more difficult in the rainy season. Potholes, slippery and poorly visible roads are often the causes of many road accidents during the rainy season. We list some important tips to minimize accident risks for your rainy weather road trip.

Safety starts before you drive. Here's what you can do before you hit the road:
  • Give yourself extra time to check traffic, road and weather conditions before you go. It's also recommended to regularly check them for long distance driving. 
  • Check brakes, steering, and fluid levels. 
  • Make sure that headlights, turn signal lights, brake lights and windshield wipers are clean and functioning properly.
  • Check tread depth. Worn tires especially bald ones can be deadly on wet roads. It is widely accepted that tires should be replaced if the remaining tread depth is down to approx 1.6 mm (2/32 inch tread depth). This minimum tread depth standard is adopted by many of the world’s national transportation authorities. 
    Tire pressure label 
  • Check tire pressure, and also make sure that your spare tire is properly inflated. Many times people ignore their spare tire until they have a flat, and then find the spare tire is flat too. Keep in mind that many vehicles have different tire pressures on the front and rear axle. Recommended tire pressure is usually shown on a label attached to inside of the driver side door, doorpost, or glove box door. 
  • Prepare an emergency kit and keep it in the car, you never know when something's going to happen to you or your car. The basic emergency kit should include the following items:
    1.  First aid kit
    2.  Car tool kit
    3.  Food and drinking water.
    4.  Flashlight. Waterproof flashlight is recommended. 
    5.  Jumper cables. 
    6.  Multipurpose utility tool like a Swiss army knife.
    7.  Two reflective warning triangles

Safe Driving in the Rain
The Sumatra rainy season often brings heavy rain and often means flooded roads, a few rain drops can quickly develop into a heavy downpour. Here's what you can do to have a safe drive during the rains & thunderstorms:
  • Maintain safe following distance.  The 3-second rule needs to be increased to at least 5 seconds as wet roads can double stopping distances. 
  • Turn on your windshield wipers to keep your windshield clear. 
  • Rain can cause windshield and windows to fog up quickly. If your windshield and windows fog up, turn on the air conditioning and open the windows a little bit if necessary to increase the airflow. In a car without AC, a rag or piece of clothing will work as well, you'll just need to clear the windshield and the window more often. 
  • Turn on your headlights even in a light rain, or in gloomy, foggy conditions. They not only help you see the road but also help other drivers see you. 
  • Avoid excessive or sudden braking. It’s best to apply the brakes smoothly and gradually before coming to a complete stop. If you push the brake pedal to the limit, the car will probably skid. 
  • Don't follow large trucks or buses too closely, they tend to kick-up a lot of spray which can reduce your vision. Take care when passing them as well, if you must pass, do it quickly and safely.
  • Go slow when driving through a puddle of uncertain depth. If it is deeper than the bottom of your doors, turn around and find another route. Deep water can cause serious damage to a modern car's electrical system. 
  • When stuck in the mud, shift into 1st or 2nd gear and accelerate slowly. Don’t spin the wheels, or you could sink deeper.
  • When visibility is so limited that the edges of the road or other vehicles cannot be seen at a safe distance, it is time to pull over and wait for the rain to ease up. If the roadside is your only option, pull off as far as possible and wait until the storm passes.
Bengkulu - Kepahiang road condition

Flood Hazards
Many areas within Bengkulu province are considered to be at low to moderate risk of flooding. Floods can occur in Bengkulu province and the neighboring provinces as a result of heavy rainfall for a prolonged length of time. Take extra care when driving through these following areas which are prone to flooding:
  • Bengkulu city: Bentiring, Rawa Makmur, Semarang, Surabaya Permai, Tanjung Agung, and Tanjung Jaya.
  • Seluma district: Jenggalu, Cahaya Negeri, Air Periukan, Sukaraja, Seluma, Talo, and Semidang Alas Maras.
  • South Bengkulu district: Pasar Manna, Manna, and Ulu Manna.
  • Kaur district; Kaur Selatan (South Kaur), Nasal, Simidang Gumay, Tanjung Iman, Tetap, Luas and Maje.
  • Rejang Lebong district: Sindang Kelingi, Air Dingin, Bermani Ulu, Curup, Selupu Rejang, and Padang Ulak Tanding.
  • Kepahiang district: Bermani Ilir, Merigi, Ujan Mas, and Kepahiang.
  • Lebong district: Lebong Utara (North Lebong), Uram Jaya, and Pelabai.
  • Central Bengkulu district: Karang Tinggi, Taba Penanjung and Pondok Kelapa.
  • North Bengkulu district: Lais, Batik Nau, Ketahun, Air Besi, Putri Hijau and Marga Sakti.
  • Mukomuko district: Pulau Makmur, Ipuh, Arah Tiga, Lubuk Pinang.
Hope it helps and stay safe!!!

Photos by Adriansyah Putera

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