To See and Be Seen: Jackie Violet looks at ways of staying safe throughout the winter
All thoughts of the summer holidays are in the rear view mirror as we begin to batten down the hatches for winter. Out come the hats, coats, scarves and wellington boots with a kind of gloomy despair. We also enter the most dangerous time of year for driving. October is perceived to be the worst on two major counts. The first being the cold, crisp but sometimes sunny days, and the second, that the clocks go back, plunging the country into early darkness.
The sunny mornings may look lovely, but the sun is so low in the sky, that it can have a dazzling effect on driving, and in some cases can lead to virtual blindness. It seems that no matter what position the sun visor is in, it can’t quite cover the autumn sun, and so the most important way to avoid an accident is to slow down. Dappled sunshine can be troublesome too, so if you’re approaching a wooded area, reduce your speed and even use your headlights. Remember the old saying – ‘to see and be seen.’ On motorways it’s even more important to keep the two-second-gap from the car in front when the sun is directly in your eyes. The car ahead can be harder to see and brake lights can go unnoticed, so it’s imperative that you don’t get too close.
It’s also a time for checking that your car is in tip top condition, making sure that all the windows are spotlessly clean both inside and out. Use a good screen wash diluted with water, or buy one of the handy little tablets or sachets that make up a full reservoir of wash, and regularly check that these are topped up. Cleaning the car inside can be trickier, as many glass cleaners often leave smears on the windscreen, which in sunny conditions, can make visibility even worse. An old remedy suggests that a mixture of vinegar and water applied with newspaper is best to clean the screen thoroughly, however sometimes it is just impossible to avoid a few smears – especially when the windscreen fogs up because of nasty weather conditions outside. A soft duster in the glovebox is an essential piece of kit for a quick fix in an emergency.
At the end of October, the clocks go back, meaning both dark mornings and evenings. According to RoSPA -The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents – more accidents occur around this period than any other time of the year. Dusk is particularly perilous as your eyes try to adjust to the onset of darkness. It is reputed that one in five drivers suffer from some kind of night time blindness but are unaware of it. Telltale signs are other cars’ headlights appearing distorted almost like a firework effect, or starring, meaning that a visit to the optician may well be the order of the day.