Eyes key to safe driving

Vision key to safe driving
Slow down when visibilty deteriorates

We have all heard about, seen or perhaps experienced multi-vehicle crashes on heavily-travelled freeways in low visibility conditions

It all starts with reduced visibility, whether due to fog, blowing snow, smoke or other factors. But, it is the difference in speed that results in such carnage. Seeing something in time to avoid it is the key to everything we do at the wheel. At 100 km/h we travel about 30 metres each second. It takes an alert driver about one-half second to recognize a problem, and get from the accelerator to the brake. During that brief period we have travelled about 15 metres.

Add another 38-40 metres to come to a complete stop — provided we are driving a vehicle with excellent brakes, and properly inflated, quality tires on a smooth, dry, high-friction surface. Obviously much more in wet or poor surfaces.But that is rarely the case.

Click here to see this story as it appeared in the Halifax Herald and other Saltwire Network newspapers https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/wheels/seeing-hazards-in-time-is-key-to-all-we-do-behind-wheel-255963/

In the real world, inattention a common factor

In the real world, the driver’s attention is divided into several areas. It will take a second longer to see and process a problem. That’s 30 additional metres. If the vehicle is equipped with ABS, the brakes will likely be applied to near-maximum effect, but if the surface is less than ideal — say slightly wet as in foggy conditions — even with ABS, look for vastly increased braking distances, likely double that required in the dry. Add it up — perfect conditions, alert driver, great brakes and good tires: 15 metres to see and act and 40 to stop — 55 metres or about 10 car lengths.

The more likely scenario? The driver is not paying strict attention, the surface of the road less than perfect. Now we need 45 metres to see and act, plus another 75 or so to stop. That’s  — 120 metres or about 24 car lengths, a difference of 14 car lengths. That is the difference between coming to a safe stop, and crashing smack dab into a stationary vehicle at only slightly reduced speed. In fact, likely hitting the stopped vehicle before even getting our foot to the brake pedal.

Driving too fast for conditions

What’s this got to do with driving in reduced visibility? Driving too fast for conditions. On a clear day, if you are paying attention, you can see far enough ahead to identify a problem and avoid it. On a dark night with clean, good headlights, you can see perhaps 75-90 metres down the road — barely enough space to see, act and stop at 100 km/h. But, in fog, heavy rain, snow or other poor conditions, vision could be as little five-10 metres.

Even if you were going only 50 km/h, you’d need all of that to get your foot from the gas to the brake — and have no space left in which to stop. In other words you would hit a stationary object — person or car at 50 km/h.

Difference in speed matters

It’s the difference in speed that matters. If the object in front is travelling at the same or even slightly slower speed you’ll have time to do something. If it’s stopped and you’re going faster than 50 km/hr, or there is less visibility, the speed at which you will hit it will be even greater.

Clean glasses, windshield and headlights; strict attention to the job at hand, quality tires and a properly maintained vehicles (brakes) will all help. But the definitive answer — and there is only one with respect to driving in poor visibility — is to allow sufficient space.

The simple fact is that in order to avoid something, you have to see it in time to take action — and have enough distance remaining for that action to be effective.

Click here for more:https://youautoknow.net/bad-roads-slow-down/


About Richard 166 Articles
At the age of five I was already obsessed with all things automotive being able to identify the make and model of car by just the sound of its engine going down the street in front of our house in the small town on the south shore of Nova Scotia. Although I have been covering and writing about the automotive scene for more than 40 years and the light still grows brightly.