Driving Emergency: What to Do if You Can’t See the Road Ahead

 What to do if you can’t see the Road Ahead…

By Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®


What should you do if you can’t see the road ahead of you?  This may sound like a silly question but with the big wreck this week on the Florida highways and the recent smoke across the roads in Texas, drivers need to have a solution to the problem.

It may be smoke, fog, rain or even a snow storm that block your visibility of the road.  Eighty percent of your driving decisions are based on visibility.  This is more than a good set of wiper blades, tires properly inflated and new headlights.  Your driving decisions can be a matter of life or death.

Following the recent pile-up on a Florida highway that claimed 10 lives, here are some common sense pointers on what to do when drivers find themselves unable to see the road ahead.

Driving in reduced visibility conditions

·         Obviously, slow down

·         Stop your vehicle on the side of the road – BUT first look in your review mirror and watch traffic; put on your 4-way flashers to let drivers around you know what you are doing.

·        When you look ahead and see a problem – find an exit. Stopping in a travel lane means drivers coming up from behind may not see their vehicle until it’s too late to stop.

·      In a whiteout or dense fog, there’s no warning that something is ahead of you- listen to local radio during bad weather and for local traffic and road conditions.

·        Drivers are responsible to maintain control of their vehicles at all times, including avoiding hitting slow or stopped vehicles, no matter what the weather conditions.

·       Speed has a significant impact on what happens, driving situations can change at any time in any conditions where visibility goes from normal to almost nothing without warning.  This is why multi-tasking behind the wheel is stupid!

·     Slow down, you will greatly reduce the risk of rear-end collisions and chain reaction pile-ups.

·      Many highways have fog lines and median reflectors that will guide drivers to the road lines and the side of the road.

·     Stopping in the travel lanes is something drivers should never do and in many cases, the conditions that created the poor visibility in the first place, like fog or snow, aren’t likely to go away quickly.

·     Be aware of your surroundings, drivers not only need to slow down but also avoid tailgating in low-visibility scenarios.

·     Drivers must turn on their headlights anytime they turn on their windshield wipers. With ice and snow a major concern at this time of year, drivers should never pass state snowplows as they work to clear the highways and lay down salt or ash to make the road way safer.

·         Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will only be reflected back off the fog and actually impair visibility even more.

·         Reduce your speed — and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.

·         Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open your window a little to hear better.

·         Use wipers and defrosters as necessary for maximum visibility.

·         Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.

·         Be patient. Do not pass lines of traffic.

·         If you do exit your vehicle, move away from the vehicle over the guard rail to avoid injury.

·         Use moderation in judging a safe speed. Drive slow enough to maintain a safe stopping distance.

·         Don’t slow down so much that you become a risk to other drivers.

·         Be aware that in reduced visibility conditions, drivers tend to follow the tail lights of vehicles in front of them.

·         If you must pull off of the road, pull as far off of the road as possible, turn off your headlights, take your foot off of the brake pedal, and turn on your hazard lights.

·         Make sure you have a pair of sunglasses in your vehicle in case of bright sunlight.

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