Drivers Fact Sheets

Driving In Foggy Conditions

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.

Take particular care when driving in fog, especially at night. Fog can be patchy, going from a light mist to a thick blanket in an instant. Obviously, the faster you drive in these conditions, the less time you will have to avoid danger.

As you enter fog, check your mirrors and slow down. Use your foot brake lightly so that your lights warn following drivers.

Lighting

  1. Inappropriate use of fog lights can be illegal.
  2. Fog lights should not be used unless visibility is seriously reduced.
  3. Ensure your car lights are clean and in full working order.
  4. Fog lights should be switched off once the visibility improves.

Make sure your main beams aren’t turned on by accident. Main beams direct light up into the fog, making it difficult for you to see. Dipped headlights direct light down onto the road and help other drivers to see you.

Although using your lights will make you more visible, there are times when the inappropriate use can be illegal and cause visibility problems for others. Many drivers switch on their rear fog lights as soon as it gets misty or starts to rain, not realizing the danger this misuse of their lights may cause to themselves and other road users.

The law, as presented by The Highway Code, states that front and rear fog lights must not be used unless visibility is seriously reduced – which generally means when you cannot see further than 100 metres (328 feet) – and that they must be switched off once the visibility improves. Using rear fog lights when visibility is greater than 100 metres can mask the brake lights and dazzle those drivers following, thus increasing the risk of a rear-end collision rather than reducing it.

Front fog lights should only be used where visibility is seriously reduced and should be adjusted so as not to cause undue dazzle or discomfort to other road users. The inappropriate use is dangerous as it can affect the oncoming driver’s ability to see cyclists, pedestrians, and also the road.

Don’t use your emergency flashing lights. Studies have shown that drivers are attracted to flashing lights and tend to drive into them inadvertently.

To Summarise:

  1. Use the correct lights for the weather conditions.
  2. Use dipped headlights not full beam.
  3. Use fog lights if visibility is 100 metres or less, but remember to switch them off when visibility improves.

Keep Your Distance

  1. When driving in fog, slow down, reduce your speed. Even though most drivers slow down to some degree, the big problem is getting everyone to drive at a safe, constant speed. Most fog-related traffic fatalities occur because someone was driving too fast and couldn’t stop in time to avoid a collision.
  1. Don’t hang on to the tail-lights of the vehicle in front.
  1. Leave plenty of room between you and the car in front. Keep your minimum safety gap to three seconds in ideal conditions; with the decreased visibility fog causes, this interval should be increased substantially.
  1. Keep an eye on your speedometer. Studies show that some drivers acclimate themselves to foggy conditions and unconsciously increase their speed over time.
  1. Don’t stop in the middle of a road 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.
  1. 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 stamp on them.
  1. Always use your defroster and windscreen wipers in foggy conditions and remember that the problems of fog driving become greater at night.
  1. The best advice we can give to drivers confronted with thick fog is to get off the road as soon as possible.

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