Experts at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) are calling on all road users to take extra care when navigating the roads during low-visibility or foggy weather conditions this season, particularly in the mornings and early evenings.
“We reiterate our call for road users to ensure their safety by taking the appropriate precautions in low visibility conditions. There is also a high volume of road and building construction going on in Qatar, so we should be even more aware of our surroundings to avoid getting into accidents,” said Dr. Rafael Consunji, Director of the Hamad Injury Prevention Program (HIPP), the community outreach arm of HMC’s Trauma Surgery Section.
HIPP recommends the following best practices which are proven measures for preventing many injuries and deaths from weather-related accidents.
Drivers should follow these steps:
- Listen to weather forecasts and general advice about driving conditions on local radio or TV, and plan your route to avoid areas with heavy fog. If possible, start your trip earlier to avoid rushing during foggy conditions.
- Exercise extra patience and restraint. Your daily journey will be slower and will take more time in the fog because all road users will have limited visibility.
- Drivers and all passengers must wear a seatbelt on every trip. This is the only proven way to prevent severe injuries and deaths in motor vehicle crashes.
- Slow down and avoid sudden stops or acceleration; other drivers will not be able to see you and make the necessary adjustments in a timely manner. You may have to drive at less than half the speed limit to ensure safety for all road users in your vicinity. Keep to a speed that will allow you to stop within the distance that you can see.
- Increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front to more than normal so you can brake safely.
- Dip or turn on your headlights on low beam only, as the high beams reflect off the fog and will impair your visibility and that of other drivers. If you have fog lights, use them, but turn them off when the fog has dispersed and visibility is better.
- Avoid distractions such as mobile phones, earphones or the stereo, so you can pay full attention to the road conditions. Wind down your windows during very low visibility so you can hear oncoming vehicles.
- Reduce overtaking or changing lanes in heavy fog, and make full use of your signal lights for every turn and lane change.
- Use the road markers on the right side of the road as your guide and do not blindly follow the vehicle in front, which may leave the road for whatever reason.
- Keep a sharp lookout for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists as they are very difficult to see during foggy periods. Request your passengers to help you by looking out for other vehicles or obstacles.
- Don’t use your emergency flashers or hazard lights unless you are pulling off the road to park your vehicle, which you should do if visibility is decreasing rapidly or if the fog is too dense to continue. Once parked, move away from the vehicle to a location that is well away from the road and allows you to look out for oncoming vehicles.
- Make sure your windows and mirrors are clean before your trip, and use your defroster and wipers to maximize your vision. For fastest defogging, use the AC with the temperature set at 'hot', which will also clear condensation from other windows.
- Motorcyclists should use reflective jackets or vests and running lights to increase their visibility for other road users.
If you are a pedestrian or cyclist:
- Focus on the road and avoid distractions such as using your mobile phone. If you can, delay your trip until when the fog clears.
- Wear high-visibility clothing such as reflective vests or brightly colored clothing. Attach a light to your bicycle or carry a torch or flashlight.
- Make sure to use the bike lanes, pedestrian crossings and sidewalks constructed especially for you.
- Walk in the direction facing the traffic flow so you can see oncoming vehicles and they will not suddenly emerge from behind or beside you.
- Be extremely mindful in the vicinity of construction sites, road works, open water, canals, lakes, ponds or coastal piers, as they can pose unseen hazards in your path.