Tag Archives | visibility

Don’t wing it

Side mirrors, otherwise known as wing mirrors, are crucial to maintaining good visibility around you on the road. Importantly, they inform you of where a cyclist may be in traffic when your rear-view mirror might not have picked them up. Unfortunately, wing mirrors are prone to damage. Should this happen, it may not appear a major priority but legally you need two working mirrors and one must be on the driver’s side. A damaged mirror dramatically reduces your visibility and affects the safety of other road users. Fixing a wing mirror can cost from £15 to £150, so it isn’t worth taking the risk and landing a hefty fine of up to £2,500.

Speed control

Extended separation distances between yourself and the car in front are crucial in poor conditions where the road is slippery and tailgating irresponsible. It’s not just grip on the road that can alter things, but visibility can be hugely affected when driving in fog or heavy rain. You see obstacles much later and this impacts on your ability to assess how to respond. Always match your speed to visibility: the less you see, the slower you need to drive. A reasonable rule to apply with good dry road conditions is a gap of one metre per mph of your speed. Remember, if you reduce your speed by just one mph, your chances of being involved in an incident falls by five per cent.

Reduced visibility

When it’s raining your all round visibility in the car is reduced and as a result your blind spots are very much larger, so it is vital to take extra care when pulling out of junctions or changing lanes on a motorway. Also remember visibility is reduced for other road users too, so they are less likely to see you, it’s important to allow for this and expect other drivers to make mistakes.

Clearer night vision

Driving at night can be a challenge due to the reduction in visibility of other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians and headlight glare. A few simple maintenance tricks can make night-time driving safer and easier. Many drivers neglect cleaning their car windows and although this basic maintenance sounds obvious, it’s not necessarily about the dirt you can see on the windows.

The front windscreen in particular gets dirty on the outside, but can also acquire a thin hazy film on the inside. This can be due to smoking and car heaters, but also something called ‘outgassing’ caused by plastic vinyls releasing plasticisers into your car’s interior.

Plasticisers provide interior vinyl plastics with flexibility and durability but are released into the air, particularly on warmer days and can cover the inside windscreen (and other windows) in a waxy thin covering. This waxy film is hardly noticeable during daylight, but reduces visibility when driving at night as it becomes noticeable in the increased glare from other vehicles’ headlights. Fortunately, this film can be easily removed by a water and vinegar solution.