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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

When the road ahead is foggy, slow down

Fog might delay your journey but not heeding the weather warning could be fatal

More than 100 cars were involved in a fog-related pile-up in 2015. Stephen Lock / The National
More than 100 cars were involved in a fog-related pile-up in 2015. Stephen Lock / The National

The UAE’s roads can be tough to negotiate at the best of times. When thick fog descends, like it did last weekend, it makes safe driving and good observation skills even more imperative.

Thick, swirling mists might make for atmospheric shots to post on social media, with the tops of skyscrapers barely visible above the clouds, but they make for potentially lethal road conditions and huge inconvenience, whether you are dealing with a cancelled flight or a delayed journey. They can appear as quickly as they disappear and according to the National Centre for Meteorology, the dense fog is set to continue for the next couple of days, particularly in the early morning and overnight.

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Read more:

Fog disrupts Christmas Eve flights at Dubai airport

Dense fog that has caused travel disruptions to last days

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Over the last couple of days, it has blanketed Sheikh Zayed Road, reducing visibility to just a few metres and slowing traffic in some places to a crawl. While it is encouraging to know most drivers – although not all – have taken the message to slow down to heart, road safety campaigners say the dangers could be vastly reduced by making fog lights on vehicles compulsory in the UAE. Because they are not a government requirement, most cars do not have them. A change in law cannot come soon enough for those who have found themselves suddenly stranded in an impenetrable fog – and will give a sensible alternative to using hazard lights when driving in fog, a common practice on roads, even though it is banned by the Road User Code for Abu Dhabi.

The guide advises reducing your speed in fog, pulling off the road altogether if it is too dense, starting your journey earlier to account for bad weather or postponing your trip until conditions improve. With school and festive holidays upon us, most travellers are anxiously trying to get somewhere to celebrate with families and friends. Unfortunately, there have been too many serious incidents to make haste in such weather. Many will remember the horrors of Fog Tuesday in March 2008, which led to a 200-car pile-up, four deaths and 350 injuries, and the 114-vehicle pile-up of 2015, in which 20 people were injured and cars left as burnt-out wrecks. We could all take the time to slow down and with those high stakes, it is not simply a suggestion but potentially life-saving.

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