Avoid tunnel vision with the IAM
This week's tips from the IAM's head of driving standards, Peter Rodger are about how motorists can drive through a tunnel in the safest way. Whatever the length of the tunnel, you need to be aware that road conditions can be very different – here's what you can do to stay safe.
- Always pre-plan your journey, know which route you will be taking and fill up the car with fuel beforehand – you don't want to face the risk of running out of fuel in a tunnel.
- If you know there are roadworks, try and avoid them by taking a longer route if you can. Keep up-to-date with the latest traffic news so you avoid getting stuck in a tunnel.
- Take off your sunglasses when you're travelling through a tunnel – they hinder your eyesight in dim lighting conditions.
- Use dipped headlights to help improve your vision, but never use the full beam as this will dazzle other motorists.
- Never speed through a tunnel as you cannot predict where there will be a sudden bend. Keep to the given speed limit and slow down if you can't see clearly.
- Avoid tailgating – leaving plenty of room between yourself and the car in front of you at all times.
- Do not change lanes unless instructed to do so – keep an eye out for traffic signs that tell you which lane you need to get into and stay in that lane. If you're travelling through a two-way tunnel, keep to the nearside kerb.
- If stationary in a tunnel for any length of time, turn off your engine. The ventilation system usually relies on traffic movement to vent toxic fumes from the tunnel. Keep windows closed during this time if possible.
- If you breakdown in a tunnel, switch on your hazard lights immediately and try to coast to a breakdown lay-by or the nearside kerb. Make sure you evacuate the vehicle and wait on the pedestrian walkway. By this point you should be wearing a high-visibility jacket and will have called your breakdown recovery provider.
- If you are advised to vacate your vehicle and the tunnel, follow signs along the tunnel wall which show you which way you should walk to the nearest exit, provided your safety is not at any risk.
- When using an emergency exit inside a tunnel be careful how you exit through the doors. Some emergency exists open onto the active carriageway of the opposite tunnel bore which may mean you walk out into the path of fast-moving traffic.
Peter said: "Drivers and passengers must be aware that road conditions can be very different in a tunnel. They can be more slippery, and bends harder to judge. Drivers must allow for this, and if they do there is nothing to fear."