Fog-related accidents cause more than 500 fatalities yearly, but advice to avoid the roads in poor conditions doesn’t work for those doing courier work. Read on for our top tips to help keep you safe when you’re out on the roads in winter. |
Seeing the Issue
Where ice can create slippy patches and damage the road, fog only really affects one area: visibility.
Accordingly, most of these tips will focus on how you can remain aware of other vehicles, keep others aware of you and adjust to low visibility. Courier work can be stressful enough without driving blind so whether you’re a new driver or an old hand, it pays to be reminded.
A Clearer Picture
If you’re already struggling to see, it makes sense to do everything you can to improve visibility. While you can’t change the weather, you can make sure that you’re getting a good view of the road.
Firstly, keep your windows and windshield clean. Dirt can be distracting at the best of times, but in fog, the added murk can be downright dangerous.
Secondly, de-ice your windows and windshield. In addition to distorting your view, ice and moisture can create a bright glare. Avoid getting dazzled by clearing ice away thoroughly before each journey.
Finally, clear any obstructions. Most people will do this out of habit, but busy days doing courier work can mean you’re short of time. But don’t cut corners; stay safe by keeping clear lines of sight through your windows.
Shedding Some Light
So you’ve maximised visibility as much as possible. Now we turn to other drivers. The best way to make yourself known is to use your lights. But it’s crucial you use them correctly.
The Highway Code lays out a few rules:
• Never use high beam in fog. • Switch to fog lights when visibility is reduced to 100m or less. • Turn fog lights off when visibility clears to 100m or more.
The last two points should be self-explanatory, although it’s worth noting that you can be fined for using fog lights when it’s clear.
The first point is crucial, as the intense bright light of high beams can illuminate the fog itself. Stick to your low beams and this will also avoid dazzling other drivers.
Keeping an Eye Out for Hazards
Low visibility means less time to react. To stay safe, drive slowly. By the time you spot a hazard in foggy conditions it might be too late, even if you’re driving at an otherwise safe speed.
Similarly, leave more distance between yourself and other cars. The demands of courier work should never come before safety and it’s better to be a little late than to not arrive at all.
Finally, some general tips.
• Check your mirrors thoroughly before slowing down. • Tap your brakes before you need to slow to alert other drivers, and brake gently. • Maintain complete control of your vehicle (avoid cruise control). • Hug the right side of the road to navigate – don’t focus on other drivers’ lights. • Use your ears: roll down your window at junctions and crossroads and listen.
Anyone doing regular courier work should also make some basic preparations before every journey. Keep a de-icing kit in your car along with some fuel, a spare tyre and some warm clothes in case you get stuck.
We hope these tips help you stay safe on the roads this winter.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.
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