Sun | Oct 20, 2019

Driving in ‘bad’ weather … is the risk greater? - Pointers for driving in adverse weather conditions

Published:Sunday | September 15, 2019 | 12:14 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Automotives Writer

Is driving in bad weather more dangerous, and is the risk greater? Do drivers tend to pay more attention during this time? The motorist who habitually drives one-handed, gazing serenely at the outside, generally comes to and operates at full effort when the weather gets poor.

Cloudy or rainy weather greatly reduces visibility. Objects ahead are blended together until you get dangerously close. Sometimes we consider clear, sunny, windless days as the only ones with almost perfect conditions for driving and so we describe dusk and night as adverse periods for general driving.

However, drivers may take them for granted and fail to adjust their driving skills accordingly.

Driving in bad weather may be not be much fun.

“The risk is far greater when the road is wet,” said Kanute Haire, director of road safety in the Ministry of Transport and Mining. According to Haire, it can be hazardous, therefore, avoid it where possible. Should it be extremely necessary to drive, drive slowly and cautiously, concentrate on smoothness and steadiness, and keep your eyes open at all times.

“Exercise patience and caution at all times,” advised Haire.

ACTION 1: Ensure that you are seen during this period.

ACTION 2: Do not dwell too much on parking lights, they were intended only for what their name implies.

ACTION 3: When the sun goes down, flip on your headlights (low beam), and you will be sure to be seen, left, right, or centre. A motor vehicle coming from behind a hill reveals itself by its light beams, whereas it would be invisible by day.

POINT A: Drivers should be mindful of how their bright lights affect the oncoming motorists. The brightness of the lights, immediately followed by darkness, forces your eyes to make an instantaneous adjustment. Imagine the other car’s lights as a curtain. Unfortunately, the roads could be littered with objects behind the curtain.

POINT B: A defensive driver should make it a habit to switch on his low beam whenever he is approaching or overtaking traffic. The glare of the high-beam headlights in a driver’s eyes, or in his rear-view mirror, can radically reduce his vision.

POINT C: Ensure that you lower your headlights for approaching traffic, as the driver you blind may regrettably wander into your lane and hit you head on.

POINT D: An effective passing signal can be made by flickering your lights as you overtake a slower vehicle. Before you pull out to pass, simply flick on your high beams for a second; this will indicate to the driver ahead that you are passing.

RAIN

Rain also plays its part, too. Rain can make the roads and highways slippery, thus increasing stopping distances and the dangers of skidding. The first half hour of the heavy rains is very dangerous. During this period, the rainwater combines with the oil and the rubber on the pavement surface, creating a microscopic film rivalling water for slipperiness. After half an hour, the volume of water will wash the surface clean, cutting down the glaze. If the car tends to oversteer, that condition will increase in the rain. This action, along with the fact that less steering control is available on slippery surfaces, means that the car will get out of control more easily and will be more difficult to correct.

POINT A: All braking, steering, and acceleration should be done with finesse in the rain.

POINT B: Make a conscious effort towards smoothness and try to avoid sudden changes of speed or direction.

POINT C: Ensure that your windshield wipers are in good condition. Nothing can handicap a driver in rain more than a smeared, water-streaked windshield.

POINT D: If the water does not wipe off cleanly but forms into small beads, rather than trying to see through the messy glass, stop and wipe the surface with a rag or handkerchief. If the condition is bad, get a bottle of cola and sluice the windshield with it. That should help.

POINT E: Night driving and rain form a dangerous driving condition. Added to the poor visibility is the problem of reflection from the pavement.

POINT F: The lights of oncoming motor vehicles will dance on the water-soaked road, blurring and distorting the view to a point where no accurate judgements can be made.

POINT G: The presence of fog will not seriously reduce tyre adhesion but will cut visibility. If you encounter fog, like passing through Sligoville to Bog Walk, pare your speed and turn on your low beams day or night.

POINT H: If you are driving in wet weather of any type, periodically wipe your headlights clean. Visibility will improve immediately.

POINT I: Keep the speed of your vehicle in check during bad weather. This will eliminate the need for lusty breaking or steering. The faster you drive, the farther you slide.