Saturday, January 21, 2006

good motoring
Beat the fog
H.Kishie Singh

Driving in the fog requires some special skills and preparation. First, get to know the controls on your dashboard. Every new breed of car has heating and de-misting facilities. Sad to say, a lot of owners/drivers do not bother to read the owner’s manual. This becomes clear on a foggy day. Cars like Sonatas, Corollas, Lancer et al are driving around with near opaque windows: opaque because of condensation on the glass area on the inside. Wires are embedded in the rear windshield. These are heater wires to keep the rear window clear. All you have to do is depress one button — if you know where it is.

Similarly, the front windscreen can be kept spotless and provide 100 per cent visibility. Fifty per cent on the inside, that part is easy, the other 50 per cent is on the outside, which means the wipers have to have brand new blades.

The fog may reduce visibility by 50 per cent. If your windows are fogged, that may blur your vision by another 20-30 per cent. Do you really want to drive when you are rear blind? Learn the finer and safer points of driving and owning a car.

There are definite procedures to be followed while driving in the fog. First, don’t venture out unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, allow yourself extra time for slow driving.

If you have to go out, make sure the glass area is clean, and the lights are working, especially the brake lights. Adjust the controls for defogging while you wait for the car to warm up. No fiddling and fidgeting about once you are on the move. At times like this, all your attention should be on driving and the road conditions.

It is very important: see and be seen. Drive with your headlights on. If the other driver has poor visibility because his windows are dirty or fogged up, a set of headlights will alert him. Do keep your lights on low beam. High beam is no good either for you or the other drivers.

The other day I was on my way to Shimla and there was fog. The car in front had his hazard flashers on. The car behind had his lights on full beam.

The flashers were totally distracting. My eyes were automatically drawn to the bright lights, and that too flashing that I could not fully concentrate on the road.

The car behind had his lights on high beam. The interior rear-view mirror can be controlled, but on a winding road the high beam from the rear would catch the exterior mirrors and dazzle me. A couple of turns later I pulled off the road and let the two motorists proceed. For reason unknown, the two were in a hurry and speed’s exactly what should not be the priority. In conditions of poor visibility, you must reduce speed and drive with extreme caution. And, remember, low beams are much more effective than high beams. Yellow fog lights, of course, as the name implies, are made for foggy days.

Another very dangerous habit. A car overtook me on NH1. A big luxury sedan. The driver was driving Burra Sahib, who was fast asleep in the front passenger seat, with the seat belt on and seat reclined — a very dangerous posture, indeed.

In case of severe braking at high speed, the Burra Sahib can slip under the seat belt. The seat should be upright when the car is in motion. The seat belt could strangulate the person or even snap his neck if the seat is in a reclined position.

It has been proved that the most effective passive safety fitment in your car is the seat belt. But for the seat belt to be effective, the back has to be upright, only then will the belt settle properly across the waist and chest, as it should.

Happy motoring. 

Pet names for cars

Pet names purportedly increase the bonding between friends, and give a sense of intimacy to relationships, but did you know that the same applied to you and your car? Well according to a survey by Internet insurer, more than one out of every five people, have pet names for their cars.

However, women outstrip men in this department, with 26 per cent doing so, as compared to 16 per cent of the men.

While popular cars are more likely to be nicknamed Poppy and Rosey, negative ones are more likely to be called Slug and Bad Car.

The survey also revealed some other strange choices of names, with one Toyota owner calling his car Audi, and a Rover owner naming his Grunge Buggy. —ANI