Seeing & Being Seen is Critical to Safe Driving
Safety on the roads starts with a driver who can properly see and be seen by other vehicles. Good vision is essential for an optimal safe driving experience. If you are unable to see properly, it makes it almost impossible to drive safely. Bad weather and dangerous driving conditions are common any time of the year, which makes practicing proper car maintenance that affects vision clarity imperative. Because 90% of your driving decisions are based on a clear, unobstructed view of the road, it is more important than ever to review some key tips on how to ensure visual clarity.
Because the vast majority of driving decisions depend on vision clarity, a clean, clear windscreen is imperative. The combined effect of chipped or cracked glass, bugs, and road film will obscure vision. Breaks on the vehicle windscreen can impair a driver’s visibility. Many people do not realize that auto glass is an essential part of the safety net designed into the modern cars. Damaged windscreens can compromise that safety net.
“Repair breaks right away because the windscreen is a key element of the structure of the car,” says Jon Thomas, Senior Design Engineer of NOVUS® Auto Glass. “If you let a ding or small break increase it could lead to a larger crack jeopardizing the visual clarity of the windscreen.” To attain optimum consumer safety, Thomas recommends repairing a windscreen whenever possible. Repair not only saves the windscreen, it preserves the original factory placement of windscreen to the auto body. Keeping the factory’s original adhesive also helps avoid air and water leaks.
Streaking and smearing that will impair vision are caused by worn windscreen wiper blades. Worn wiper blades can be dangerous and should be checked and replaced periodically. It is a critical safety concern that your car’s wipers provide you with the cleanest windscreen feasible; therefore, if they are worn or brittle, replace them as soon as possible. Ozone, airborne contaminants, oil, sunlight and dirt all act to weaken and reduce your wiper blades’ ability to keep your view unobstructed. Freezing temperatures make the rubber in your wiper blades hard and brittle, which increases their tendency to crack or tear. Hot weather warps the rubber and prevents the blade from wiping your windscreen cleanly. Depending on your climate, the rubber “Squeegee” part of your blades maybe effective for only six months. Road dirt acts like an abrasive to wear away the flat surface necessary for a good squeegee effect. Check and clean your wipers periodically. If the arm springs are weak or broken, replace the arm. When completing a windscreen wiper check don’t forget to also check your, rear wipers, headlight wipers, wiper motors, windscreen washer fluid and windscreen washer fluid tank. Replacement is very low cost maintenance.
Hydrophobic Coating Chemical engineers refer to any substance that repels water as “hydrophobic.” When applied to windscreens and windows, hydrophobic treatments cause water to bead up and be whisked away with ease. Another benefit is that snow, ice and bugs are easily removed. An American study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute concluded that such treatments “can result in significantly improved driver visual performance” in wet weather, especially at night. In the study, “The influence of Hydrophobic Windshield Coating on Driver Performance” researchers found that treated glass increased drivers’ visual acuity by as much as 34 percent and cut response time to a test target from four seconds to three. (A single second represents a significant margin of safety, since it translates to about 18 metre at 60 km/h.)
Windscreen service providers like NOVUS Auto Glass understand the safety importance of windscreen clarity. Not only do we inspect every windscreen we service to ensure the highest quality repair and replacements, but we also check the customer’s windscreen wipers and offer the hydrophobic glass treatment.
Dirty headlights can significantly reduce visibility, especially in bad weather. Keep your headlights clean and damage free. Broken headlights can substantially affect your visibility while driving. A product available to protect your headlights is the Headlight Saver. Thanks to modern technology, a new plastic has been developed that will make your headlights almost bullet proof. These 1/16 inch thick plastic shields are very tough, and best of all, virtually invisible when installed. Even on close inspection of the lens it is very hard to tell they are installed.
When the sun goes down, your chance of being involved in a fatal accident may increase by as much as 300 percent. That’s a good reason to check your headlights periodically. Make sure they work on both high and low beam and are properly aimed. Besides helping you see, your lights will help you be seen. It’s also a good idea to keep your headlights on while driving in the daylight. They help define your car’s position on the road and its distance from other drivers. When driving in fog, use your low beam headlights. High beams reflect off the moisture droplets in the fog, making it harder to see.
Don’t over pack your rear window. If you have groceries, luggage, boxes or other items loaded in the rear window, you may be an accident waiting to happen. Although side mirrors help, they are a poor substitute for a clear view out the back window. Whenever backing up an unobstructed view is essential.
Good vision is essential for road safety. The eyes control most of your movements and decisions while driving. With good vision and visual comfort you can drive safely by maintaining concentration. Statistics show that one driver in five has a vision defect which may affect driving performance. Just as your car needs regular checks to ensure that it is functioning normally, your eyes also need examination to ensure proper vision. On a routine basis have your vision checked. Always wear any prescribed glasses or contacts when driving. Keep a good pair of sunglasses handy for times when the sun visors above your windscreen will not be enough to shield your eyes from glare. If you have prescriptions consider having them tinted or purchase prescription sun glasses. Do not wear sun glasses at night when driving and beware of substandard eye wear. It can distort your vision and fail to provide necessary ultraviolet protection.
Get in the habit of checking all your vehicle lights and turn signals. They are essential for communication with other drivers. When they’re not working properly, other vehicles don’t receive your message this can result in a collision. Make sure that other drivers are aware of your intentions and try to give plenty of notice before making directional changes.
Remember to keep your windows and mirrors clean! Use your defrosters to maximize vision and keep a safe distance behind the vehicle ahead of you. Check on weather conditions before starting your travels and always wear your seat belt whether you are driving or just along for the ride. Follow these safety tips and don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road and other drivers’ eyes on you.