IAM offers tunnel driving tips

17th January 2013

Most motorists are unlikely to encounter tunnels on their day-to-day routes, however those unfamiliar to them should still be aware of the unique problems they can pose.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is looking to increase the levels of safety in Britain's tunnels and has offered a series of driving and riding tips.

Advanced driver and IAM spokesman Peter Rodger claims that tunnels can present serous risks and issues to motorists.

Vehicle fires and accidents in particular can be a huge hazard, with many motorists unsure of how to behave in such a situation.

Problems can then arise if motorists choose wait in their vehicles for help, rather than escaping the tunnel as soon as possible.

While tunnels can come in a variety of widths and lengths, the issues are somewhat similar, Mr Rodger claims.

Before entering a tunnel he suggested that people should always check their fuel gauge to ensure that there is no risk of running out while in a tunnel.

While approaching one listening to traffic information on the radio can be invaluable. This is also important when driving in Europe, with some of the longer road tunnels actually having their own stations as well as electronic signs to keep drivers fully informed of driving conditions, delays and any accidents.

It may be useful when driving around the sunny heights of the Alps, or other mountain ranges, to wear sunglasses to prevent glare and help view the road better, however as motorists near tunnels they must remember to remove them so as not to hinder their visibility.

Once in the tunnel dip the headlights and ensure not to use full beams, which can dazzle and startle drivers travelling in the opposite direction.

As with all roads speed limits are there for a reason so stick to them and keep a sensible distance from the car in front, while watching out for brake lights.

While travelling through two-ways tunnels ensure you stay close to the nearside kerb and keep an eye out for emergency pedestrian exits in case you should need one.

Overtaking is a strict no-no and changing lanes should only be done when told to do so.

Should a motorist break down while inside a tunnel the hazard lights must be switched on immediately, and if possible try to coast to a breakdown lay-by.

If there is not one nearby then as close to the kerb is best. Then turn off the engine, but leave the key in the ignition so the vehicle can be moved easily, claims Mr Rodger.

He went on to advise that evacuating the vehicle should be a priority, keeping everyone at a safe distance and on the pedestrian walkway, should one be present.

It is always recommended to don a reflective jacket in situations such as these and walk to the nearest emergency phone to inform the operator of the break down and potential hazard.

Should a fire begin, he advised motorists to only trying to extinguish it if someone is in danger and leaving the vehicle as quickly as possible.

Mr Rodger concluded by saying: "Though you may see a tunnel as just another stretch of road, there are specific precautions that you must be aware of and implement when using one."

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Posted by Driving through tunnels can present unique challenges, claim the IAM.