Tips for driving with poor visibility
The best way to stay safe when low visibility strikes is to avoid driving if possible. If it’s not a necessary trip, consider delaying your journey until conditions improve.
If that’s not feasible here’s some tips for how to drive more safely with poor visibility.
Increase your distance, decrease your speed
Morris says that several factors, including visibility conditions, can impact the amount of time it takes for a driver to react once they see a hazard on the road, meaning drivers should increase their distance.
“For example, if it is raining, add one second to the minimum of three seconds, making a total of four seconds,” says Morris. “If it is raining and visibility is also impaired, then add another second making the minimum five seconds.”
Morris adds that there isn’t a set amount you should reduce your speed by during poor visibility conditions, but it should be enough that you can keep the aforementioned amount of distance in front of your car without creating a hazard for other motorists.
Keep your windscreen clean
It seems obvious, but having a clean windscreen will help with visibility. A dirty windscreen can even scatter light and make glare worse. For crystal-clear results, try using glass cleaner and microfibre cloth.
Check your windscreen wipers regularly too, and make sure they’re not leaving streaks (this is a sign they may need to be replaced).
Don’t let your car fog up
Be familiar where your demisters are in your vehicle and check where they are before you start driving in a new vehicle. You can also use your car’s air conditioner to clear foggy windows, or even open windows to let the cold air clear the windscreen as a last resort.
Use your high beams correctly
When visibility drops, it might feel instinctive to turn on your high beams to help see, but using them in the wrong conditions can make visibility worse or blind oncoming traffic.
For example, using high beams in fog scatters more light back at you, making visibility worse. Instead, use your fog lights if you have them, or dim your headlights if you don’t. The same principles apply to driving in smoke, which acts similarly to fog, as well as in snowy conditions.
High beams should be reserved for when you’re travelling on a dark road with no oncoming traffic, such as a country road. If you see a vehicle coming towards you, dim your high beams so you don’t blind the other driver.
Blinded by the light
Incorrect use of high beams as well as sun glare can cause temporary blindness while driving.
You’re more likely to be affected by sun glare during the early morning and evening when the sun is low in the sky. If driving at these times, be prepared by adjusting your sun visor and keeping a pair of polarised sunglasses handy.
Do not look directly into another car’s high beams. If you see an oncoming vehicle that has forgotten to dim their high beams, use the lane markings on the left-hand side of the road to guide yourself until the other vehicle has passed. If a car with high beams on is behind you, adjust your rear vision mirror to reduce the glare.
In the event you are blinded, slow down and pull over if safe to do so until your vision is fully restored.
Know when to pull over
If visibility worsens to the point that you can’t see past your bonnet, put on your hazard lights and pull over as soon as safe to do so. Do not continue driving until visibility returns.