x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

'Slow down, or don't drive', UAE experts tell motorists driving in fog

Amid warnings of more foggy days ahead in the UAE, we ask some experts for some safety guidelines.

ABU DHABI// Many motorists driving in the fog are ignoring safety guidelines and common sense.

If thick morning fog descends, drivers should slow down, use low-beam headlights, avoid changing lanes, minimize distractions and never use their blinking hazard lights unless there is an emergency or they have come to a full stop.

The safest thing to do, experts say, is wait until the fog lifts.

"If you don't see the road ahead of you ... it's better to stop," said Hussain Saeed, training manager at Belhasa Driving Centre in Dubai. "Better to delay your trip, instead of risking your life."

Belhasa teaches beginners and advanced students how to drive in the fog, Mr Saeed said.

And Emirates Driving Company in Abu Dhabi covers all fog safety tips in its curriculum, said George Zakhem, the company's head of corporate communications.

Mr Zakhem added that in Abu Dhabi, the driving theory test might ask questions such as what type of lights to use in fog.

But commuters complain that other drivers either don't know how to deal with fog or are ignoring what they have learned.

Maisoon Al Saleh, 24, from Dubai, said drivers have been reckless and rude during her morning commute recently, despite heavy fog.

"People wouldn't be cautious about the car next to you," she said. "They would just cut right in front of you."

And many drivers use hazard lights in the fog regardless of their speed, said Shaima Al Sayed, who commutes from Ajman to Dubai.

"They don't realize they have fog lights," she said. "Double hazards, you need to do it when the traffic stops, literally. And I think it's one of the main reasons accidents happen, because they're on all the time, so people don't realise when the traffic has actually stopped."

The Government can also take steps to help drivers in the fog, said Abu Dhabi road safety specialist Abdulilah Zineddin.

On foggy days, police should increase enforcement to stop speeders, he said. The Government can also encourage workplaces to adopt flexible schedules on foggy days, allowing employees to arrive later, he added.

International standards recommend that you should not drive on a motorway if you cannot see at least 100 metres ahead.

Other tips include: plan your route; check your tyres, headlights and windscreen wipers before your journey; keep your windscreen clear; use fog lights if your vehicle has them; turn off your radio; maintain extra space between vehicles; and break and signal early.

vneriem@thenational.ae