Driving In Fog

Driving In Fog

Smart Motorist is dedicated to raising driving standards by increasing the skill and competence of all drivers. Driving safely on today's roads demands more skill and better judgment than ever before, especially under hostile weather conditions. Here we concentrate on the challenge of fog. This dangerous meteorological condition emerges most often in spring and autumn. As always, the familiar plea from auto clubs, experts, and law enforcement organizations not to drive too fast or too close must be heeded.

Driving in heavy fog is like driving with a blindfold on. Statistically it's the most dangerous driving hazard in existence. No matter how important the trip is, it's not worth gambling your life. By far the safest thing to do if you run into fog is to move well off the road and wait for the fog to lift. However, the simple and safe solution is not always the most practical, so read on to find out what driving procedures should be followed in fog.

When driving in fog, reduce your speed and turn on your headlights. Think about how far they can see and how long it will take you to stop. Keep an eye on your speedometer. Studies show that some drivers acclimate themselves to foggy conditions and unconsciously increase their speed over time. Make sure that you can be seen. Turn on your fog lights, and make sure your high beams aren't turned on by accident. High beams direct light up into the fog, making it difficult for you to see. Low beams direct light down onto the road and help other drivers to see you. Most European cars have a switch that turns on extra-bright auxiliary rear fog lamps. American and Asian vehicles lack this important safety feature. Don't rely on your parking lights alone: they do little to increase your visibility in daytime fog. Don't use your emergency flasher. Studies have shown that drivers are attracted to flashing lights and tend to drive into them inadvertently.

Whatever you do, don't turn off your headlights in heavy fog, even if they interfere with your forward visibility a little. Headlights are the only part of your vehicle that oncoming drivers can see at a distance. Don't stop in the middle of a roadway either -- that guarantees you'll be rear-ended. If you can't continue, pull well onto the shoulder, getting your vehicle completely off the road.

Use the right edge of the road (aka fog line) as a guide rather than the center line, to avoid running into oncoming traffic or becoming distracted by their headlights. Think about what other drivers see when they're behind you. If you drive with your emergency flashers on or keep tapping your brake pedal, you'll make them nervous and they may try and pass you, a procedure that places both your lives in danger. Always use your defroster and windscreen wipers in foggy conditions and remember that the problems of fog driving become greater at night.

Stepped-up traffic monitoring, police enforcement, or roadway design cannot prevent crashes in poor visibility. More consideration should be given to closing down major highways shrouded in thick fog, just as they're currently closed when a blizzard occurs. Even though most drivers slow down to some degree, the big problem is getting everyone to drive at a safe, constant speed. GM's new infrared optical imaging system found on Cadillac's 2000 Deville can detect objects in the road obscured by darkness or poor visibility. Although not economically feasible for all new automobiles, their installation on large trucks and tractor-trailer rigs could be a step in the right direction.

The best advice we can give to drivers confronted with thick fog is to get off the road as soon as possible. If you can't or won't pull off the road we offer the following advice:

  • Keep your minimum safety gap to three seconds in ideal conditions; with the decreased visibility fog causes, this interval should be increased substantially.
  • Slow down. Most fog-related traffic fatalities occur because someone was driving too fast and couldn't stop in time to avoid a collision.
  • Make sure that you can be seen. Turn on your fog lights, and use low beams. High beams direct light up into the fog making it difficult for you to see. Low beams direct light down onto the road and help other drivers to see you.
  • If you leave the road, be sure to pull off completely. Turn off your driving lights and turn on your flashers so others know you're there but won't think you are driving on the road.
  • Always use your defroster and windscreen wipers in foggy conditions to keep the windows clear.
  • Keep an eye on your speedometer and maintain a slow, constant speed.
  • Remember that other drivers have a limited sight distance and that fog can leave roadways slick. Signal early, and when you use your brakes, don't stomp on them.
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I had an awful experience, moved out to a suburb and had to drive home Sunday night with the worst fog I'd ever seen, driving on the highway.

All these tips are fine but how do you find the exit one is supposed to turn off on when the fog is so thick. I missed mine and almost missed coming back. Scary.

Any tips?

Finding the exit is easy if you have your GPS device turned on.

thank you for your safety rules on fog riding..

Keep the A/c ON with the front vent (the vent just behind the windscreen) open, you will never need to use the windscreen wipers on fog. PS: Even if the mist persists in your screen, play with the temperature control.

Learn the name of the exit or street just before the one you want to take.



Yes, yellow tinted glasses cuts the glare, also works great in rain.

What if you are on the highway and cannot see a thing, do you stop on the highway and put your flashers on or do you keep driving slowly. Remember, I said 'you cant see a thing!!'

only use fog lights in fog. Regular lights reflect off the fog and make it harder for you to see!

Hey! Thanks for posting these smart traffic tips. The problem now is us being extra careful and the others not giving a damn. I think each person needs to review basic traffic rules. Anyway, I hope the awareness spreads. I'll be sharing this to my motorist friends so they'll know how to brave the fog should they need to. Your review is pretty helpful. Much thanks!

the tips said even though your low lights make it harder for you to see, you should still use them so other drivers can see you.

Great Article. I live in an area that is foggy in the winter time. The scariest thing I see is people driving with their lights off. Are these people STUPID? YES!
Turn your low beams on. I cannot stress that enough. It's not so you can see but for others to see you. Accidents happen because someone hit someone else because they couldn't see them in time. You might think you're just too smart and don't need to drive with your lights on, however, how smart are you going to feel when someone rear ends you because you didn't give them enough to see you by and you have that ability in your control.

Front fog lights, if fitted should not be used with dipped beam. They are designed (on all cars sold in Europe anyway) to be used when the dipped beam is 'blinding the driver.' They are aimed so that they illuminate the road as far as possible without the blinding effect and provide adequate warning to other road users that you are there. Using them alongside dipped beams completely defies their purpose (which is not, as many assume, to increase visibility). In practice, they should only ever be used in fog so thick you can not see with dipped beams and at very low speeds due to the short cast of the light. If you are using front fog lights, you should really be getting off the road ASAP anyway. Use of front fog lights alongside dipped beams has the added disadvantages of dazzling other road users and drawing the drivers focus in close rather than down the road. Neither of these are a help and only serve to increase the chances of an accident. Otherwise, nice tips.

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