Fog returns, so do car crashes: Five things you're doing wrong in low visibility
The return of the infamous and notorious fog in many parts of north India brings with it the unfortunate - often tragic - instances of numerous road accidents. The winter months sees many parts of the country engulfed in a thick blanket which drastically brings down road visibility. This, coupled with instances of negligent driving, often results in sorry sights on city roads and highway expanse.
The latest instance of a multi-vehicle pile-up was reported in Greater Noida just earlier this week in which one person died and more than a dozen were injured. The incident involved as many as 20 cars on the Eastern Peripheral Expressway in the morning hours of Monday (December 7). (Full report here)
It becomes absolutely imperative then to not only ensure that your vehicle is at its perfect condition to tackle low-visibility scenarios but that the person behind the wheel is alert, aware and always in the know of the best practices of driving in foggy weather.
Here are five things that must be avoided when driving in low-visibility conditions:
Using high beam: Many drivers in the country have a keen fondness for the high beam, even in well-lit city roads, often blinding the driver in the oncoming lane. While this in itself is a clear road hazard, not much comes from putting the head lights in full power in foggy conditions. It is a misconception that high beam will improve visibility because high beams reflect in water molecules which cause a glare which, in turn, hampers visibility.
But it is also imperative to keep head lights on and in regular mode so as to ensure that the vehicle is visible from the front.
Not switching on emergency lights: Much like above, emergency (parking) lights are crucial to ensure that the vehicle is visible at all times. However, it is also imperative to ascertain whether the vehicle with its emergency lights on is moving or in stationery position.
Coming to a halt: Being parked on the road is one the biggest reasons behind road accidents in foggy conditions. Even if visibility is dangerously low, it is advisable to keep moving or at least find a secure spot before coming to a halt. In India, instances have been reported where a driver chose to halt in the left-most lane and this leading to accidents. While it is obvious that halting is the best idea in low-visibility conditions, the wrong spot can quickly turn it into the worst idea.
Switching on the heater: Regardless of how cold the weather and the cabin may be, turning the heater on results in condensation on the windscreen and windows which, in turn, further deteriorates visibility. On the contrary, it is advisable to keep at least one window slightly open.
Speeding: It is the most obvious factor but deserves a mention here because of how big it is in contributing towards accidents. Speeding, even in regular conditions is dangerous - often illegal and can be deadly in low-visibility. Even if within speed limits on highways, it is always better to be at a pace which would allow for emergency and safe braking at short notice.
Notable mentions: Safety precautions like wearing seat belts and installing fog lights are advisable. Factors such as drunk driving and overloading a car is always risky but become more so in low-visibility conditions.