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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Carnage On Sheikh Zayed Road

Driving on SZR always used to give me the willies, even in clear weather. Driving on it in fog had me turning religious and hoping there actually was a God who was listening to my prayers. Because the sad fact is that 99% of people on that road have no clue whatsoever about how you should drive in fog. This morning there has been absolute carnage on SZR. Accurate figures are yet to arrive, but we can say at least six dead, 300 injured, and 200 cars trashed. In one out of about five incidents. This is completely insane. Nobody seems to know or understand why this happened. I hate to be a smart-arse, but this is why it happened: they were going too fucking fast.

Simplissimo.

Gulf News gives some tips for driving in fog. Not bad, not wrong, but they missed the absolute crucial point. It's all to do with visibility and stopping distance. The GN article says 'slow down'. This needs to be expanded upon. What it should say is 'slow down so that you are confident that you can stop within the range of your visibility'. In dense fog, this can mean that you are travelling at 10 kmph. Or less. But it means that if you suddenly encounter a pile of 200 blazing wrecks, emerging out of the fog 6 metres ahead of you, you will be able to stop or avoid becoming wreck #201. It also means, of course, that there's a good strong chance of some other moron hitting you from behind. The only consolation is that they might be in the outer lanes while you are sticking to the inside one. If you possibly have the option: don't drive in fog.

Let me get really boring and repeat: if you can only see 10 metres ahead of you, you should not be travelling so fast that you cannot stop within, say, eight metres. Got it? Your car is probably no longer than 2.5 or 3 metres long. To be able to stop in such a short distance, you should be crawling at less than 10 kmph (166 metres per minute). And forget about being late for work. You are going to be late for work. And so is your boss and so are your colleagues. You will not score any Brownie points for beating them. Especially if you are dead.

The point is that in seriously thick fog, you must think like this: can I stop within the bounds of the wall of fog I see before me? If you don't think you can, SLOW DOWN!

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