Fog can be incredibly dangerous weather conditions even for experienced drivers. It can greatly reduce visibility so it is critical that drivers stay focused on the road in order to stay safe.
While sometimes it may be the safest option to keep off the roads completely, realistically, it won’t always be possible.
Every year, fog causes major road accidents when drivers were left unable to see the road ahead of them. We urge you to please remember these safety tips for driving in the fog and be sure to share them.
Why is Driving in Fog Dangerous?
You will have seen fog used in the movies often as a way to create a sense of danger. This isn’t just something that some script writer made up and others followed suit. Underneath and behind that curtain of fog, you don’t know what unseen real-life dangers there may be. Failure to use caution and these dangers could alter your life forever.
The thing with fog is that you can’t just rely on the weather forecast before heading out on your trip. It could say there are clear road conditions but fog can suddenly appear in minutes. It is unpredictable which makes it so dangerous.
Fog reduces driver visibility and this in turn creates two main dangers.
- Fog makes it difficult to see your surroundings, other vehicles, and sometimes even the road itself.
- It impairs speed perception.
20 years ago, the UK witnessed its worst road accident caused by fog which resulted in a pile-up of 160 vehicles on a 370 metre stretch of the motorway, including 30 on the opposite carriageway some 20 minutes later.
Five air ambulances and 25 ambulances ferried the injured from the scene to three separate hospitals which left 3 people dead and a further 62 people injured.
So what should you do when faced with fog while driving?
1. Slow It Down
You may feel the need to try and hurry to your destination but you must slow it down. As we have already mentioned, you may only be able to see a few feet in front of your car. Because of this, any obstacles and dangers would only be seen once you are already upon them.
Slowing your vehicle down will give you more time to react if the traffic stops or other hazards appear.
2. No High Beams, Low Beams Only
I see it all the time, drivers hit a wall of fog and immediately use their high beams. This can make the situation worse. You should only use the low beams so as not to decrease visibility even further.
In many situations, the high beams can be used to increase visibility but when driving in fog, the stronger beams will reflect off of the water particles in the fog and make it appear denser.
Many vehicles today are equipped with special fog lamps. These may or may not increase your visibility. The symbol for fog lights looks like this, and you will be able to find buttons with these symbols on your dashboard.
3. Use Your Windshield Wipers
Windshield wipers do not just have their uses when it’s raining but in the fog also. They will keep your windshield glass clear. Putting them on the lowest possible setting is usually proficient.
4. Interior Defrost Function
Fog will often occur during periods of high humidity which makes it a good idea to use your vehicle’s interior defrost function. Don’t be tempted to use a piece of rag to wipe the inside of the window as this can lead to the windows smearing.
5. Watch for Red Lights, Not White
When visibility is reduced on the roads you need all the help that you can get. Oftentimes, it’s easier to see the red lights of the vehicles in front than it is to see the white lights of oncoming traffic.
6. Be Careful With the Brakes
When you hit a particularly bad spot of fog it can be tempting to stop the vehicle. This makes sense but really all you are doing is creating an extra hazard for other road users.
Other vehicles will be behind you and you won’t know how many or how close they may be. Their visibility will be reduced just as much as yours.
Stopping in the middle of the road in decreased visibility will increase your chances of getting rear-ended by an approaching vehicle. Stopping your car could cause a chain reaction and a major pileup.
The earlier you can start to tap the brakes, the better! Your brake lights will alert drivers behind you that you are slowing down, and you won’t catch them by surprise with a sudden stop.
7. Listen Up
When driving in fog, one of your senses has been removed or reduced and so you must rely on your other senses to safely get to your destination. Use your ears and listen to what is happening on the roads around you.
Don’t have your music blasting out and try winding the windows down slightly when near roundabouts and junctions to ensure that you can hear any oncoming vehicles.
8. Keep a Safe Distance
In any situation that poses a higher risk of accident, you should always keep a safe distance from the car in front. This should be at least two car lengths between you and the car in front.
Driving in fog is dangerous but the best thing that you can do when you must hit the road is to always think about your visibility and the visibility of other road users. Make yourself as visible as possible and keep your distance.