How to Stay Safe Driving in Fog

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There are lots of possible weather conditions you could face while out on the road, but an ever-present danger, especially for drivers in certain climates, is fog. While fog doesn’t cause damage itself, it can lead to accidents because it reduces visibility on the road. Sometimes, the fog can get so bad that you can barely see the car in front of you. It’s important, then, for both you, your passengers, and everyone else out on the road that you know how to maneuver safely in fog.
This article will guide you through what you should keep in mind when navigating a vehicle in fog — both before you get on the road and after.

What to Do Before You Get Out on the Road

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the road. If you are traveling on a road where fog is known to be an issue, you should familiarize yourself with the road and its characteristics as much as possible.
If you have a strong sense for what the road is like where you usually travel, then a thick fog is less likely to confuse you. If you know there is a sharp bend around a certain landmark, for example, you won’t have to rely on your vision as much if the fog gets really heavy. This is better than trying to feel your way out when you are having trouble seeing.
Step 2: Stay on top of routine maintenance concerning your lights. When you are facing the prospect of heavy fog, make sure your headlights and tail lights are working.
If your tail lights or headlights are out, dim, or dirty then there is very little you can do to prevent an accident when the fog gets extremely heavy. Besides, it’s good overall road safety and even against the law in many places to allow your headlights or tail lights to go out. (You’ll also need to use the right lights once you’re on the road. We’ll dig into that more in our next section.)

What to Do When You Are Out on the Road

Once you have done some practical preparation, you can focus on how to be the best possible driver when the fog finally hits. Of course, if you can, you should avoid traveling altogether if there is a fog advisory out.
Step 1: Drive slowly. There is no greater strategy in adverse conditions than slowing down your speed. That is one of the safest things you can do when driving in dangerous weather conditions.
Speed makes everything worse: you’ll have less time to react, any accidents you get into will be much worse, and you’ll be a greater danger to yourself and others while out on the road. This does not mean you have to slow your speed to a crawl, as this can also be a danger in the fog. If someone is traveling fast and has to slam on the brakes because you’re going too slow, that could lead to a dangerous outcome for both drivers.
Simply put, use your common sense and judgement to determine what speed best fits the circumstances, but a general rule of thumb is that you should take your speed down a notch when the visibility of the road isn’t perfect.
A corollary to this is maintaining a safe distance from other drivers. You never know when the person in front of you might have to slam on their brakes, which means that you could rear end them in the midst of the chaos. Your car or your life simply are not worth the extra seconds you might gain from tailgating. If your car has cruise control radar which sense when other cars are in front of your, turn that on. But check your user manual to see how effective it will be in extremely dense fog, and stay alert.
Step 2: Pay attention to the road. At all costs, avoid getting distracted when you have to travel in fog.
Don’t be tempted to look at your phone, play with the radio, get overly involved in a conversation with passengers, or do anything that could take your eyes off the road. Since you don’t have as much visibility as you normally would, the world outside your window can change in a moment.
Step 3: Use a dim headlight setting. When driving with reduced visibility like foggy conditions, it might be tempting to turn on your high beams. But that’s actually the exact opposite of what you should do. Bright or high-beam headlights can cause a glare which could be dangerous to everyone.
The water in the fog reflects the headlights when they are bright and ends up hurting your ability to see. For this reason, hazard lights are also not recommended for foggy conditions.
Instead, the safest thing to do is to use your low beam headlights when driving in dense fog. If you find yourself driving in foggy conditions often, it may be worth it to buy a car with fog lights, or get them installed in a car you already own.
Learning how to drive safely in fog is an important skill, and it takes lots of mental and physical preparation to do this. But if you are smart and pay attention to the road, you can help ensure that everyone on the road is a little better off.

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