Saturday, 11 February 2017

Driving in fog

Winter in northern India also brings fog. Foggy days may last approx 10-15 days intermittently. A mysterious white cloud envelopes trees, buildings & makes traffic crawl. Added to this is smoke from cow dung cakes, wood & other agri waste in rural area of Panjab, Haryana, UP & Bihar. Smoke + fog becomes smog & hangs over heads refusing to go till either it rains or sun is warm enough.

Sitting inside the car with fog all around gives a funny feeling of floating in white clouds! Switch the headlight on & you see more whiteness of fog with more brightness. Try switching on the special yellow fog lights only to see yellowish fog!

Over the last decade I have driven in the fog in Delhi & quite frequently on NH 58 which is Delhi - Dehradun highway. This NH passes through sugar cane belt & foggy season coincides with sugarcane cutting season. This means more trucks, tractor trolleys and animal carts on the road over loaded with sugarcane. What an adventure driving & overtaking them in fog! After keenly watching fog over the years I have formulated my own rules of in-fog-driving:

Fog is generally most dense from 6 to 8 in the morning and 7 to 9 in the evening. Many a times it may be dense in night also. And the golden rule is don't drive!

Of course if you have to go out let it be low gear low speed drive. Get your car behind a moving vehicle & follow at a suitable distance. Listen to your favourite music & cruise along patiently.

Switching on heater helps in clearing moisture of own breath getting deposited on windscreen. Occasional wiper action shall also help in keeping windscreen clear.

Use lights in low beam as high beam shows fog more brightly. Hazard lights or blinking signals are very useful & give better idea of distance between the vehicles. In case you have to take turn hazard lights should be switched off & signal light be used till turn is completed.

Keeping eyes lower at the level of say tail lights of vehicle ahead helps in keeping distance. Eyes on verge / divider of the road and on white lines on the road are great help in keeping distance & direction.

If you have a co-passenger on front seat ask him to keep eye on white line on the road. If he has not learnt driving, ask him to keep quiet. He or she should help not distract.

While driving through rural area chances are that you may encounter animal carts or tractors without tail lights. Trucks & long vehicles also in general do not have proper tail lights or signal lights. Need to keep distance from them & maintain low speed.

Similarly cycle & two wheelers pop up from no where. Naked eye has better vision in fog than a person sitting in car with closed windows. Use horn to warn them.

Back view mirror as well as side mirrors are of no use in fog. Either close them or do not look on them.

Driving in fog can be fun but requires patience with alertness. Good luck!

Morning fog in Delhi. Even pigeon seems to have postponed his flight!

As soon as sun rays come up, the fog becomes thicker for a while & then starts disappearing slowly 

Good that headlight of this scooter is on. Others can identify him at a crossings from a distance 

Long vehicles with steel bar hanging outside of their body & covering tail lights are real nuisance

The trucks usually occupy fast lane and are without tail lights - recipe for accidents

Truckers keep the best lane to themselves & won't listen to horn or pay attention to dipper. They force you to overtake from wrong side. Left is right & right is wrong! 

Video 1 made on Moto phone near Modi Nagar at around 7 in the morning:

Video 2 made on Moto mobile near Modi Nagar at about 7.15 in the morning:

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