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Driving in the Dark

November 8th, 2011 | by admin admin | in Safety Advice |    0   comments

Did you celebrate the end of Daylight Savings Time with an extra hour of sleep (or play)? Nice, huh? Except when it was time to drive home after work on Monday –in the dark. Then there’s the rain. And snow, ice, fog… It’s enough to make you want to hibernate.

Well, check out the Insurance Corporation of B.C.’s Learn to Drive Smart handbook. Its chapter on emergency strategies includes tips on driving at night, in the rain.

The most obvious tip is to make sure you can see where you’re going. Turn on your headlights. Your daytime running lights are not good enough. Low-beam headlights allow you to see 30 metres ahead of you. Scan the road constantly for potential hazards, such as pedestrians, cyclists and animals. Slow down so that you can stop within those 30 metres.

Why not flick on your high-beams? That’s a good idea on rural roads, where you’re not likely to blind an oncoming driver. You’ll be able to see 100 metres ahead or more. Just remember to switch back to low-beams when someone is coming the other way. If you’re the one facing another car’s high-beams, look to the side of the road till you can ignore the glare. In the rain, snow or fog, however, high-beam headlights make visibility worse. The light reflecting back makes it harder to see.

By adjusting your rear-view mirror, you can reduce the glare from headlights behind you. Adjusting the side mirrors so that the body of the car is just out of view not only reduces glare, but also eliminates some blind spots.

Even if you can see the slick roads ahead, you will still need to navigate them. Ensure your tires have good traction and are properly inflated. Slow down to avoid hydroplaning. If you lose traction on water or ice, do not brake. Step off the accelerator and smoothly steer the car in the direction you want to go. Wildly spinning your steering wheel or slamming on the brakes only makes matters worse.

Finally, if you’re feeling the urge to nod off, roll down the window, crank up the music and knock back some java. Talkative carpool passengers can be useful too. If all else fails, pull over and take a nap. The most dangerous part of driving at night could be simply losing focus.

VPD Alert: Last week, the Vancouver Police issued a public warning about a high-risk sexual offender. See our blog about protecting your child against predators, after a similar warning in February.

Author: Susanna Chu

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