By Eng. Daniel S. Cherono, R.Eng.,MIEK
The cold season is here with us. During this season, motorists on our highways have to grapple with poor visibility occasioned by heavy fog. Driving on heavy fog is like driving with a blindfold on. However, it is common to see many motorists, literally tempting fate, by their impatience and executing dangerous overtaking maneuvers and hence causing accidents. Some of the most notorious sections on Kenyan roads that experience heavy fog are at Burnt Forest, Timboroa, Kinungi, Kinale, Uplands and Uthiru on Eldoret- Nakuru – Nairobi Highway (A104), and Embu, Ena, Thuci,Nkubu and Meru on the Embu – Meru – Lewa Highway (B6).
Heavy fog at Uplands on Nakuru – Nairobi (A104) Highway
Statistically, heavy fog it’s the most dangerous driving hazard in existence. No matter how important the trip is, it’s not worth gambling your life. By far the safest thing to do if you run into fog is to move well off the road and wait for the fog to lift. However, the simple and safe solution is not always the most practical, so read on to find out what driving procedures should be followed in fog.
What is fog?
Fog and mist are both made of tiny water droplets suspended in air. The difference between them is the density. Fog is denser so contains more water droplets than mist. In most cases, visibility has to be less than 200 metres before it is classed as fog.
What should you do when driving in Fog?
Take particular care when driving in fog, especially at night. Fog can be patchy, going from a light mist to a thick blanket in an instant. Obviously, the faster you drive in these conditions, the less time you will have to avoid danger.
As you enter fog, check your mirrors and slow down. Use your foot brake lightly so that your lights warn following drivers.
Use dipped headlights and fog lights if visibility is reduced so you can be seen. Make sure your main beams aren’t turned on by accident. Main beams direct light up into the fog, making it difficult for you to see. Dipped headlights direct light down onto the road and help other drivers to see you.
Keep an eye on your speedometer because studies show that some drivers acclimate themselves to foggy conditions and unconsciously increase their speed over time. If you can see less than 12 metres (40 feet) ahead, your speed needs to be reduced to less than 20mph.
Use your windscreen wipers and demisters.
Beware of other drivers who are not using their headlights.
If you park your car on a main road, try and get your vehicle completely off the road. You could be rear-ended!
Drive safely and stay alive!