It’s that time of year when harmattan prevails. In some areas in Nigeria this can cause dense fog and make visibility near zero, so how do we drive safely in this type of condition. Listed below are a few tips to tackle this challenge:
1) Allow More Distance Between Vehicles
Increase your count distance by 5 seconds instead of the normal 2 seconds behind another car. Never rush or speed to get out of the fog.
2) Drive slow and cautiously
Due to poor visibility, the safest speed is moderate. This will give you time to brake effectively if suddenly there’s need for it.
3) Use caution at all times
The moisture in the air may continuously collect on the windshield, making it more difficult to see. Adjust the defroster and windshield wiper speed as necessary.
4) Use fog lights or driving lights (if equipped)
Many cars have fog or driving lights that were installed at the factory. These lights are usually mounted low, in or below the front bumper. They are aimed toward the ground out in front of the car as far as possible. Fog lights mainly differ from driving lights in the way they project the light. Fog lights often have clear or yellow lenses; while driving lights usually have clear lenses. The beam of light created by fog lights is usually wide and flat pattern; flat to stay close the road surface and minimize reflection back by fog – and wide to better illuminate the sides of the roadway (guard rails, curbs, lines painted on the roadway, etc.). Driving lights are usually merely bright spot lights designed to pierce the night darkness further than regular headlights. While fog lights are best for foggy conditions, either type of light will likely perform better than headlights due to their low mounting point on the vehicle. Experiment using all combinations (if possible) of fog / driving lights “on” and the low beam headlights “on” or “off” to determine which setting provides the best forward visibility for the driver. Do not shut off the running or “parking” lights, as they help make your car more visible to other drivers alongside and behind your car.
5) Use your low beams
The visibility in front of you will sharply decrease in a fog, so use the car’s low beam lights (if the car does not have fog lights or driving lights). Heavy fog conditions prohibit use of high beam headlights. The light from high beam headlights will be reflected back by thick fog. As fog thins, high beams can become more effective. Check periodically to see if the fog has thinned enough to make use of high beams.
6) Don’t Drift
There’s a natural tendency to wander into the middle of the road when visibility gets bad. Be sure to keep yourself in your lane.
7) Pull over to the side of the road if you have no visibility
If it gets too difficult or thick, pull over and wait. Turning on your hazard lights alerts other drivers of where you are.
8) Use the right edge of the road as a guide
This can help you avoid running into oncoming traffic or being blinded by oncoming headlights.
9) Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask your passengers to help keep an eye out for oncoming cars and obstacles on the road.
10) Be Careful With Petrol
Please do not store petrol in your home or car, inside a keg.During harmattan, the air is drier than usual, so things ignite really faster than usual . Be safe .
11.)Have A Hand Towel In Your Car
As I type this, my hands and feet are sweaty, its my body trying to compensate for the dryness(even though every where is cold ).So if you are like me, you need to keep your hands dry, so you have a good grip on the steering wheel.
12) Drive Only if You Have To
If every where is too dusty or foggy (especially early in the morning), you can wait a bit for it to be clearer before you head out, except you have to right away .
13) Carry Out Maintenance On Your Air Filters
Mid way into the harmattan season, and after , its wise to carry out maintenance on air filters or replace(depending on your preference), because of all the dust it has taken in .
14) Take Note Of Traffic And Construction Signs
Keep your eyes open and obey traffic signs, they are there for a reason .Lagos has so many road constructions going on presently, be careful so you don’t drive into a heavy duty machine.