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Prepare for a long night drive


THE STAR MOTORING

Thursday October 14, 2010

Prepare for a long night drive

COME festive seasons, millions of cars head out of the cities in a balik kampung rush that has become an accepted ritual of Malaysian life.
That's when the inevitable traffic jams occur on major highways in the country.
And many prefer driving back to their hometowns at night. Apart from cheaper toll charges on certain days, these drivers also gave a number of reasons to back their choice.

"It's actually more comfortable driving at night as the air is cooler," said housing contractor Che Amin Ismail, who stays in Rawang, Selangor.
When Hari Raya arrives, Che Amin would often drive his children and wife back to his home town in Bunut Susu, Pasir Mas, in Kelantan.
It's a 500km journey that takes him from Rawang to Gua Musang. He then has to head north before reach his destination.

"There are fewer cars at night compared to during the daytime", said Rashyeed Nor, another motorist who prefers driving out of town at night.
Rasyeed, a teacher at a school in Selayang, hails from Merbok in Kedah.
For social activist Gurmukh Singh, those who prefer travelling long distances at night have to take into account several factors as driving at night poses different challenges from daytime driving.

"The risks are higher after sunset," said Gurmukh Singh.

For one thing, visibility is reduced.

"When driving at night, the driver would have a poorer perception of the distance between vehicles apart from the lack of colour and contrast. His peripheral vision would also be restricted," said Gurmukh Singh.
The Road Safety Department has issued several guidelines concerning night driving.

Among them is that drivers are discouraged from using the high beam if there are vehicles coming from the opposite direction as this would blind oncoming traffic.

In foggy conditions, drivers are advised to use the low beam and if their cars are equipped with fog lamps, they should only be used in foggy or bad weather.
The department also said: "Allow the other drivers to easily see you and your car. If your car breaks down, try to move it to the road shoulder and switch on the emergency lights".

Drivers should also not speed at night so as to have ample time to take evasive action if danger looms in front, it said.

Meanwhile Gurmukh Singh advised drivers to ensure that their rear view and side mirrors as well as the windscreen and headlamps are always clean.
"Dirty headlamps as well as windscreen would diminish visibility."

Gurmukh Singh also advised drivers to keep their car a fair distance from the vehicle in front. "Allow the distance to be four to five seconds," he said.
"If the distance is adequate, you will able to take evasive action if something happens to the vehicle in front or if the vehicle ahead experiences problems," he said.

It's also sensible for a person to drive only when he is well rested, said Gurmukh Singh.
"Driving at night can be exhaustive. The driver would also have the tendency to be drowsy or sleepy.
"Ensure that the car is well ventilated and take short breaks on a long journey. This will help the driver to stay alert."

A driver's eyesight should also be good so that he can drive safely at night, he said.
Gurmukh Singh called on the Road Transport Department and the traffic police to take action against owners of vehicles with improperly installed xenon headlamps.

"The lamps emit white light and irritate the eyes of drivers of oncoming vehicles. It is dangerous to use when it rains as the beams would disperse unlike those of conventional headlamps."

END OF ARTICLE.  That's all folks, thanks for having the time and patience to read this blog entry.

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