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Driving in Fog

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Driving in Fog

Sally Driver
November 27, 2013


Preparation

If faced with very heavy fog, it is of course best to avoid driving at all if possible. However that's not always possible so a little preparation before setting out into one of the most dangerous driving conditions should help to keep you as safe as possible. Ensure all car lights are in working order and are clean (not forgetting to check fog light(s) Check all windows are clean both inside and out so to ensure visibility isn't further reduced by other factors such as glare. Check window washer reservoir and fill up with fluid if necessary. The use of windscreen wipers is frequent whilst driving in fog and if your vehicle is receiving dirt and spray from other vehicles, you will need plenty of windscreen washer fluid. Ensure tyres have the correct pressure. Driving in fog can often require heavy braking and if tyres are either under inflated, or over inflated, grip and stopping distances can be significantly affected - especially if conditions are icy. Familiarise yourself with the operation of your fog lights to ensure you know how to turn them on and off

Concentration

We all take driving for granted and we all let our concentration slip from time-to-time. A lack of concentration, or not paying attention is dangerous in the best of conditions. Foggy conditions can be unpredictable. Visibility can be reasonably clear one minute and in the next minute you can immediately hit a dense patch of fog. Concentrate and be prepared for conditions to change they can change almost instantly. The 2 second rule is an easy to follow method for a safe following distance in good weather. In adverse weather conditions, the 2 second rule should be extended to 3 seconds, or 4 seconds in icy and significantly reduced visibility conditions. If a driver is tailgating you, don't be speed up. If you need to abruptly reduce speed, the driver behind may need more time to react to your actions. If you are being tailgated, you may need to further increase the distance from you and the car in front, allowing you more time to slow down and in turn, providing the driver behind with more time to react.

Motorways and Dual Carriageways

It can be tempting to increase speed on motorways and dual carriageways as they are often wide and relatively straight. In foggy conditions be cautious of dense fog banks that you may enter as there could already be traffic inside travelling at a reduced speed or even traffic that has stopped. Junctions Be highly cautious pulling out at road junctions it can be difficult to see oncoming traffic in fog. If in doubt, opening your window and listen for the sound of travelling vehicles may help you.

Headlights

Use dipped headlights only. Unlike fog lights that attempt to illuminate the road underneath the fog, main beam headlights direct bright light into the fog itself, reflecting the light back to the driver and further reducing your visibility. Light reflected back to the driver can be exacerbated in low temperatures, particularly if fog water particles turns to ice.

Fog Lights

Use your fog lights when your visibility in fog is down to around 100 metres or less, this is the approximately length of a football pitch. Using your fog lights might improve your visibility of the road, but more importantly it helps other motorists to see you easily. You can also use your fog lights in other weather conditions such as heavy rain when the spray from vehicles can seriously affect your vision, again your vision of the road ahead should be around 100 metres, or less.


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