Seeing clearly to drive.

This time of year is very difficult for drivers with humid air, changing temperatures, mist, fog and low sun.  All of these work together to make driving both hazardous and stressful.  2011 is different, because on top of all this we now have overbright DRLs adding a further element of distraction and danger (you can learn more about these on Lightmare's site or on my previous post).  If roads are damp and covered with leaves you are further increasing the risk of a coming together as your braking distance is greatly increased and you are more likely to skid when braking.  Indeed, statistics show that there are 15 per cent more accidents in October compared to the monthly average for the previous six months, with 21 per cent more accidents that in August alone.  (see this Telegraph link).

While you cannot get rid of all of these distractions and dangers you can at least minimise their impact on yourself and others and significantly reduce the risk of an accident by making sure you can see clearly through the windscreen and by checking that your vehicle is serviced and roadworthy before the autumn (at least check your tyres, lights, brakes and battery).

Before you set off on any journey you should make sure you can see clearly to drive.  If your windscreen is at all greasy or just damp with condensation, your vision will be distorted and glare will be increased, either of which will greatly reduce your ability to differentiate between that parked car, that oncoming car with all its lights on and that pedestrian behind the car crossing the road.  How many times do you enter such scenarios effectively blind to what's in front?  It doesn't bear thinking about, does it?

Cleaning your windscreen
So how do you clean your windscreen effectvely?  Believe it or not, newspaper and vinegar are your friends here.  Simply use white vinegar and water in a 1 to 10 mix, applied and polished with newspaper (carefully avoiding surrounding paint and brightwork) and your windscreen should become grease-free in a few minutes.  Use a cloth soaked in the same mixture and do the wiper blades at the same time, as these get greasy too.  You should be able to polish the screen afterwards with a clean dry piece of newspaper to finish off.  Don't use wasing up liquid - this will leave a residue on the screen that will very quickly gather up more road grime and will reduce your vision again.  Don't forget the inside of the screen too as this can also get as greasy (the moisture in your breath, your hands wiping the screen and - worst of all - tar from cigarettes if you smoke).  Don't forget to check the screenwash and make sure it is full (use proper screenwash - not washing up liquid!) and the nozzles adjusted. Finally, make sure you have a kit for the inside of the car. A clean microfibre cloth, a window wiper/scraper and a means of de-icing)

Driving in poor conditions
While driving when it is humid, drizzly and foggy or when the temperature starts to drop, remember to set the heater controls to recycle the air, rather than to bring colder, damp air into the car and letting it condense on the windows for you.  If your car has air conditioning, use that - even if the temperature is set higher, as the air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier, effectively drying the air in the vehicle.  All of this helps keep the windscreen clear and your visibility as good as it can be for your journey.  The less glare on yourscreen, the clearer your vision and the less impact oncoming lights will have on your driving. Finally, don't forget your glasses.  Keeping these clean will reduce the glare too.

Drive safe, drive considerately. Don't use lights inappropriately. Be courteous to other road users.

Happy motoring!

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