Tips for driving safely in the mud

Thursday May 16 2019

The most important thing to do is to find an

The most important thing to do is to find an alternative route if you can. FILE Photo 

By Roland D. Nasasira

Lately, rain patterns have been confusing in different parts of the country. This also includes Kampala and its suburbs. While it may be joy to farmers, rain can at times turn out to be a nightmare to motorists because it comes with a number of hindrances such as making marrum roads slippery.

Follow created tyre paths
Andrew Nkora stays in Najjeera and the distance of the marrum road from the main road to his home is approximately one kilometre. When it rains, he says, he does not rush to drive ahead of other motorists all in the name of beating traffic jam.
“I take advantage of the different paths commonly referred to as short cuts. At this point, the bigger percentage of the mud has already been cleared and pushed to the roadside. It becomes easy to avoid getting stuck when I choose to create a path of my own,” Nkora says.
If you drive a car that has no four wheel drive (4WD) system, following created tyre paths also saves your car from sliding to the roadside where you may end up looking for a break down service.

Reduce driving speed
To some motorists, the perception of driving at a fast speed along muddy roads helps them get through the mud fast. According to Enock Nsamba, a motorist, driving fast in mud will just make you lose contact with the road.
“When I am driving in mud, as I steer, I am able to feel which side of the road is most slippery and one that is not and make a decision to which side I should steer,” Nsamba says. He opines that the downside of driving fast in mud is that the car becomes light, which makes it easy to skid to any direction where you could end up in a ditch.

Find out mud depth
Sam Oryang, a long distance motorist, advises that where need be, step out of your car and determine the depth of the mud using a stick not only if it is your first time to drive along a particular road, but to also understand if your car is raised and strong enough before you persevere or force your way through the mud. To Oryang, the formula is simple. If you do not have a stick in your car, look for one in your surrounding and dip it in the mud. If, after measuring the depth of the mud you realise that the depth of the mud covers half of the car tyre, it is a clear alarm to use another route. He also recommends having other tools such as a spade in your car so that you can dig away mud when tyres become slippery.

Change tyres
Oryang also recommends changing your tyres the moment rain starts. He recommends those that have big tyre treads and blocks that can manoeuvre through mud as you accelerate.
Ben Mugabe, a tyre mechanic at Apollo Tyre Clinic in Kisaasi, cites all-terrain tyres as the best when driving in mud.
“The tyre market has all-terrain tyres meant for salon cars and those meant for raised cars and these come in different sizes. The advantage with all-terrain tyres is that they increase your driving traction. The treads or mud grips hold firmly onto the ground so that the car does not skid,” Mugabe explains, adding that traction is the force under which your tyres are able to drive or carry the car body over any road surface.
The cost of all-terrain tyres is determined by where you buy them from and the country where they are manufactured, among other factors. For example, an all-terrain tyre manufactured in the US for sport utility vehicles will cost a little more compared to the one manufactured in South Africa or Japan. The price range is usually between Shs400,000 to Shs1m per tyre.

Lower your tyre pressure
Wikihow, an online portal advises that; “If you get stuck in the mud, go to each tyre and let out some air. Do this by applying a slight amount of pressure to the valve stem. Wait until you hear some air escaping and then re-check the pressure once more.

What to consider
Throttle control and an understanding of vehicle language are paramount. If you feel that the vehicle is not moving forward do not persist. Most of the time, if you select reverse, you will be able to get out the way you came in. Keep your wheels straight. Wheels at an angle to the direction of travel will add resistance to you going forward. Again, keep a good sense of where your wheels are pointing.
Type of mud and its consistency is another factor. Mud that has no liquid is worse as this causes the mud to clog up tyres easily. Mud with liquid is a little bit easier as the water helps “clean” the tyre as you go through.