Sunday 15 September 2019

Why wearing sunglasses in the car can help cut the risks of winter driving

You can get four seasons in the course of one day this time of year, so be prepared, says RSA expert

Sun glare is a challenge at this time of year
Sun glare is a challenge at this time of year

We all know how changeable the weather can be at this time of the year and bad driving conditions can be intimidating for many people, particularly new drivers.

All it takes is one bad road experience to knock your driving confidence for weeks.

One way to take the stress out of such driving is knowing your car is fit to face the challenge of winter driving. While a car service might feel like an expense you can't afford, it's important to service it regularly so you can be sure you're safe on the roads.

Here are some tips for driving at this time of the year:

* One challenge drivers are faced with at this time of the year - and which doesn't get mentioned too often - is sun glare. Because the sun sits so low in the sky, late in the morning and early in the evening, corresponding with the main commuting times, the sun visor on the car isn't really much help at all.

The result? A driver turns a corner, is pointed straight into the sun and is completely dazzled by the sheer intensity and brightness of its rays.

The situation is made worse if the road is wet as the sun reflects off the water.

If you are caught off guard and blinded by the sun like this, you can be temporarily blinded.

Polarised sun glasses in the glove box are a must for wintertime driving.

And a reminder of better weather to come.

* This might seem a little obvious but as we approach the winter months, it's really important to use dipped headlights during the day so you are easily seen by other road-users.

So in addition to using your lights properly, have a quick look before you set off to make sure your headlights and tail-lights are clean and in good working order.

Make sure the beam on your headlights is adjusted correctly so that you don't dazzle other drivers.

Only use fog lights in murky conditions and don't forget to turn them off after you have cleared the area of fog and mist.

* This might seem like an obvious one, but many people simply don't check their tyres regularly. And since pre-crash data tells us that tyres are a factor in 1-in-10 fatal collisions, they really do need more attention.

Car tyres should be above the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm but they need to be changed before they get this worn.

Don't buy second-hand tyres. Think about it - you wouldn't buy a second-hand parachute if you were going to jump out of a plane, so why would you buy a tyre if you didn't know its history?

You should also look out for damage to your tyres - ie cuts or bulges - and make sure they are inflated to the correct pressure setting.

* Only a fool breaks the two second-rule. No we haven't resorted to nursery rhymes to give you advice! BUT this is a good way to remember how to keep a safe distance from the car in front.

Pick a point somewhere, like a tree or road sign - once the car in front has passed this point say 'only a fool breaks the two-second rule'. If you finish the line before you pass the fixed point, you're too close.

And don't forget, it takes longer to stop a car during wet weather so double this to the four-second rule and say the phrase twice.

* You've probably noticed that leaves on trees have a nasty habit of falling onto the roads and building up on the roadside. This can make roads slippery, especially if it has been raining, so take your time when driving and avoid harsh braking.

Indo Motoring

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