Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Stay safe when driving in thick fog: Top tips

Compared to other forms of adverse weather, fog can sometimes be perceived as relatively innocent. But despite its discrete nature, experienced drivers are well aware that thick fog can prove lethal for motorists, and typically slows driving conditions down significantly.

Cars driving in the snow


Think ahead - Fog can sometimes remain for several hours, making it wise to set off on journeys much earlier than usual, as waiting for the fog to clear may prove futile. Before leaving, it’s imperative that your car’s lights are working properly, especially the fog lights.


Lights - Many modern cars are fitted with daytime running lights, which illuminate at the front only. Even when driving a car with automatic lights, it’s sensible for a motorist to switch their lights on manually, not leaving the decision to sensors and computers. It’s advisable to familiarise yourself with the location of your car’s fog light controls, before setting off. Drive with dipped beam headlights turned on from the outset when driving in fog, remaining aware that some other vehicles may not have their lights turned on at all.


Visibility – Windscreen wipers help to keep the view ahead free from the water droplets contained in fog, and using a car’s air conditioning, or climate control system, helps prevent the windows misting up.


Cyclists and pedestrians - Not everyone will be sensibly wearing fluorescent, reflective or bright clothing. Pay particularly close attention to pavements, crossings and parked cars when driving in urban areas in thick fog, as pedestrians may step into the road unexpectedly, and vehicle doors may be opened obliviously.


Distance - A gap of at least three seconds should be maintained between you and the vehicle in front, as they may brake suddenly. If the vehicle behind you is driving intimidatingly close, resist the temptation to speed up to create more distance, as it’s unknown what potential dangers could lie just ahead. Parked vehicles are harder to see in foggy conditions, meaning all drivers need to remain particularly vigilant.


Extra alertness - Tailbacks can develop very suddenly on motorways, even in calm weather conditions; but fog quickly reduces visibility, making it essential for motorway drivers to reduce their speed and increase their distance. Greater care and attention also needs to be paid on rural roads, which are often unlit, meaning fog could be hiding any number of hazards ahead.


Junctions - They can prove especially daunting in foggy conditions, even for experienced drivers. To counter the reduced visibility, and the risk of an accident when pulling out of a junction, particularly if it’s onto a busy road, a driver can wind their window down a little to listen for approaching traffic. If intimidated by fog, turn your radio or other music off until you feel more confident or reach your destination.


Physics - Fog can leave a damp layer on road surfaces, much the same as rain does. This can freeze and turn into ice when temperatures are cold enough, once again making it good practice to drive more slowly when fog is present.


By heeding such safety recommendations, it will help keep you and those around you safer in foggy conditions, and your confidence will increase.

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