Authorities have confirmed locust swarms were spotted in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Western Cape recently. Caution has been advised in the Free State as the swarms are likely to migrate there as well. Whilst farmers say the swarms are not posing a major threat to crops yet, motorists are reporting a different scenario.
The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says driving through a swarm can have a major impact on road safety. “The main reason is because visibility can be severely affected as a large amount of the insects collide with your windscreen. A swarm of locusts can also potentially damage vehicles by blocking radiators and causing overheating.”
There are a number of tips to follow to increase road safety in this scenario:
- If your visibility is reduced drastically, slow down or even stop depending on how little you can see.
- Remember, however, before you decide to stop it needs to be somewhere well off the road because if visibility is that badly reduced, another driver may not see your stationary vehicle on the side of the road.
- If you do stop, turn your emergency lights on and your vehicle off in case your radiator is clogged with insects.
- If you have enough visibility to continue slowly, keep an eye on your temperature gauge.
- It is also important to slow down as dead locusts can cause the road to become slippery too.
- MasterDrive recommends always driving with headlights on, however, if your headlights are off, turn them on to increase your visibility to other drivers.
- Remember that if you are having difficulty seeing so are the oncoming motorists and those behind you. Keep a watchful eye on them in case you need to take evasive measures.
- Be cautious of using your windscreen wipers to clear the window as it may smudge the bugs across the window and reduce visibility further
- Once the swarm passes or you have driven through it, find a safe spot to pull over and rectify issues. Keep windscreen cleaners, rags and water in your car which you can use to clean your window. Do not to forget to clean your headlights as well. Check the radiator and remove any bugs stuck there that could soon cause damage.
- There are special glass cleaners that assist with cleaning insects off windows. If you are driving through one of the affected areas consider keeping some of this in the car as well.
Motorists have also been requested to report locust swarms to the following agricultural representatives in these areas:
Keep an eye on your surroundings at all times while driving. “You do not want to be caught in the middle of a swarm unexpectedly. If you do find yourself in this situation, keep these tips at the forefront of your mind so you remain calm and follow the best course of action to emerge as safely as possible,” says Herbert.