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Ladies, shall we lighten up a bit?

What is going on with the British weather at the moment? We saw a glimmer of summer in March instantly uplifting everyone’s sprits. That was short lived with rain now taking over. They say, “April showers bring May flowers”. Well that is certainly ringing true at the moment along with hailstones that have annihilated my lovely tulips!

We Brits are used to these sudden outbursts with wellie boots and umbrella’s staying in the porch all year round. Sadly, when it comes to driving this is a different story.

Now I do clock up a lot of miles each week gallivanting from one new car launch to another and have to endure, for my sins, many miles of motorways.

I have noticed one minute the sun is out, next the rain comes. The only beauty of this is the stunning rainbows.

What is really getting under my skin is the amount of drivers who do not have their headlights on whist driving on the motorways when it is raining – or, for that matter, on any other roads when it is raining. So ladies, I would like you all to lighten up please. Try and get into the habit of switching on your lights as soon as you start the engine if the sky is looking a little dull. That way, if a downpour suddenly descends, you are already highly visible to other drivers. It is a bit like putting a visi vest over your car.

Those who drive a Volvo for instance, your sidelights automatically come on when you start the engine. Do not forget to turn them onto dipped headlights if visibility decreases. Others may have cars equipped with automatic lights; well whack those on as well.

If you work on the principle ‘see and be seen’ it could well save your lives.

This poses another question of when is visibility seriously reduced? The Highway Code advises generally, when you cannot see for more than 100 metres equating to 328 feet you must use headlights.

However it is not just the rain we have to contend with. Heavy downpours create spray from the road surface that is so dangerous and reduces visibility further. Vans and HGV lorries create the most spray so keep well back from these vehicles. If you have to overtake them, do so with the utmost of caution, with your finger poised over the wiper stalk as the spray comes from all angles and you may need to increase the speed of the wipers when overtaking.

I have to say, in these conditions, I do put on my front and rear fog lights. These are far brighter lights meaning other drivers will see you. So again working on the principle ‘see and be seen’.

The Highway Code says you may use fog lights in these conditions, but you must switch them off either when visibility improves or when you are close to other cars. This could be the one in front or the car that has come up behind you. By leaving them on, you may dazzle that driver.

Jackie’s Top Tips on how to lighten up

1. Each week check all your lights are working. Ask someone to help; the children for example, will enjoy this. If not park against a wall and use your rear mirror to see. Any bulbs that need replacing do so immediately either yourself or your local garage.

2. Use dipped headlights when visibility is reduced.

3. Reduce your speed accordingly

4. Keep a good distance from the driver in front that will increase you ability to see and plan ahead. If a driver cuts into the space you have created, just pull back slightly.

5. Do not forget that driving in wet weather, the stopping distances will be at least double than those required on dry roads. So for example the stopping distance if driving at 70 mph will increase from 96 metres (315 feet) to a minimum of 186 metres (630 feet).

That is equalivant to forty-eight car lengths!

6. If the steering becomes unresponsive, it probably means that water is preventing the tyres from gripping the road. Ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.

7. If a car comes to close behind you, do not be tempted to speed up! They will too. Slow down slightly and brake early for any pending dangers. This will give the driver time to react so he/she does not end up in your boot.

8. Allow more time for your journey.

9. Drive with caution.

I hope this has enlightened you.

Jackie Violet
Motoring Correspondent  

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