Dubai: As the weather gradually turns in the UAE, with the winter months up ahead, fog formation early in the morning and late at night can often make road journeys tricky. Road accidents are likely to increase due to reduced visibility and if all precautions are not taken. On September 22, Dubai recorded 29 road accidents in a period of nine hours, while Abu Dhabi recorded three deaths and two injuries in a fog-related accident and in a separate incident, a bus hit a number of camels in the Nahel area.
In all such cases, police authorities urge motorists to follow the highest driving standards and to drive attentively to ensure their safety and that of other road users. With foggy conditions likely to increase over the coming months, here are nine top tips that you need to follow to drive safely:
1. Check the weather update
Before you step out of the house, the first step is to get a quick weather update. Gulf News posts daily weather updates, which can be found here. The UAE’s National Centre of Meteorology (www.ncm.ae) also issues alerts well in advance, when low visibility conditions are expected. It is always best to be prepared before you hit the road, to make sure you can plan your journey accordingly.
2. Better late
If you know that foggy conditions have been reported, call in to work and inform your manager that you may be late. Once you are not stressed out about reporting late to work, you would be in a better position to drive more carefully and attentively.
3. Find your car’s fog lights and use them
Your car would have rear fog lights, with some newer models even having front ones, so locate the switch on your dashboard and turn it on. However, it is important to use them only when necessary. While driving, keep an eye on your rear view mirror - if you can clearly see the car behind you, they can see you as well, so you don’t necessarily need to turn on your fog lights. Also, it is important to turn them off when you are out of the fog as they can dazzle the motorists behind you.
4. Use the wiper, defogger and car heater
Foggy conditions can lead to condensation accumulating on your windscreen. Keep the mirrors clean using your wipers regularly and use the defogging switch to maximise visibility. Also, if it’s foggy then it is likely going to be cool, which means that condensation may build up on the inside of your car. This will affect your visibility even more. The heater will help keep your windows clear.
5. Stop at a service station
If the fog intensifies to an extent that driving becomes difficult, slow down gradually and find a safe spot to pull over. It is safer to stop at a petrol station or service road, instead on the side of highways.
6. Slow down, maintain safe distance
A regular, frequent advice by police authorities across the UAE is to drive slowly when visibility is poor. When judging a safe distance while driving, consider longer braking distances due to wet or slippery road surface.
7. Use dipped headlights
If you are driving in fog, you must turn your headlights on. Make sure they are dipped – which is the default, normal setting for headlights, with the beam in a lower angle position, to enable oncoming traffic to see. Do not use the full beam, as in heavy fog conditions, the fog reflects the light back towards you, and if the fog is not too dense, it can blind motorists coming in from the opposite direction.
8. No hazard lights
A dangerous practice observed on UAE roads is motorists driving with their hazard lights on. Firstly, hazard lights should only be used to indicate that you have stopped abruptly due to a road hazard ahead. Secondly, with your hazard lights constantly on, it would be impossible to indicate if you do need to change lanes. Police authorities have also announced a fine of Dh500 and four black points if you are found driving with your hazard lights on.
9. Avoid changing lanes
Don’t change lanes unless you have to – constantly changing lanes is potentially dangerous as it could cause an accident. Remember that motorists behind you may not have seen you. Abu Dhabi Police also issued guidelines to motorists earlier this year, asking motorists to avoid overtaking.