In the U.S., over 30,000 crashes occur in fog annually. In these crashes, more than 500 people are killed and over 11,000 people are injured. In the Pacific Northwest, thick fog is a common driving hazard in the winter months.
WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF DRIVING IN FOG, USE THESE 14 TIPS TO KEEP YOU SAFER:
The American Automobile Association (AAA) states that most fog-related accidents involve motorists who are familiar with the road but are driving too fast. Reduce your speed, increase following distance, avoid sudden stops, and if it comes down to it pull off the road until visibility increases.
- Slow your speed and don’t use cruise control.
- Increase your following distance and allow yourself enough stopping space so you can stop in the distance of your visibility.
- DO NOT use high-beam headlights. In fog, high-beams will reflect the light back at you, making things worse for you and other motorists. Stick with low-beams.
- If you have them, use your front fog lights in addition to your low-beams in really dense fog. You should never drive using only the parking or fog lights; it is not only illegal but unsafe as well.
- If visibility drops below 300 feet, use your rear fog lights if you have them.
- When visibility returns to normal, shut off the fog lights. They are distracting for oncoming motorists.
- If you find yourself in fog, minimize distractions. Turn off your music and don’t use your cell phone. This will allow you to listen for traffic that you can’t see.
- Keep your headlights clean. In the winter months especially, get into the habit of wiping them clean whenever you fill your gas.
- Use your defroster to keep your windows clear and avoid fogged windows.
- Stay alert. Watch for slow-moving or stopped vehicles. If you see red lights ahead, slow your speed even more.
- Don’t use your hazard lights if you are moving- you can confuse other motorists.
- To stay in your lane, use the right edge of the road, roadside reflectors, or white fog line as a guide.
- Stay calm and be patient. You shouldn’t change lanes or pass other vehicles unless you absolutely have to. DO NOT try to pass long lines of traffic.
- If visibility is extremely poor, exit the freeway or find a safe place to pull over. If there is no nearby exit, pull off the pavement as far as safely possible. Shut off your lights, set the emergency brake and remove your foot from the brake to make sure your taillights aren’t lit up. Turn on your emergency flashers (hazard lights). You should never stop in the travel lanes. If you are unable to pull over, go slow and honk the horn occasionally.
Fog lights – also called fog lamps- are special lights that are designed to be used at low speeds in fog, heavy mist, snow, and other situations with poor visibility. They are an extra set of lights that are mounted low on the vehicle. They were designed with the thinking that fog hovers around 12 to 18 inches above the road, and does not settle directly on it. They point to the right slightly so that the driver can see the white, solid fog line on the edge of the road and use it as a guide. The rules for using fog lights varies by state. The most important thing to know is that they are not allowed to be used in a way that would cause a glare for other motorists, and cannot interfere with the visibility of another motorist within 25 feet.
Rules for using fog lights in Idaho are as follows:
- The use of two front-mounted fog lamps is allowed.
- The fog lights may be used with your low-beam headlights.
- The fog lights cannot create a glare in the eyes of oncoming motorists. In other words, no part of the main beam is should strike the body of a person, vehicle, or other object higher than the fog lamp centers 25 or more feet ahead.
- Headlights should be on in the daytime when visibility is reduced to 500 feet or less.
Stay safe this winter, use caution when driving in fog and other inclement weather conditions. If you need assistance with your vehicle or are ready for your regular check-up, call on the experts at Meridian Automotive. Call us today, (208) 297-5573, or schedule an appointment online.
For other winter driving tips, please see the following blog posts: