Winter weather isn’t always just about snow and ice. In some areas of the United States, the temperatures are moderate enough for no snow, however, fog can be a common occurrence. Foggy conditions can be just as dangerous as snow and ice storms, mostly due to significantly limiting visibility.
To stay safe, follow these tips for driving in foggy conditions:
Adjust your Lights. When fog hits, visibility is restricted, and a driver’s natural reaction is to flip on those high-beam headlights. However, when visibility is restricted due to foggy conditions outside, the high beams can do more harm than good. In fog, high beams actually reflect off the fog and back at the car, which makes visibility even more restricted. Instead, use your low beam headlights or fog lights, if your vehicle has them. Make sure that you are never turning off your lights completely – it’s the best way for other cars to see you.
Reduce your Speed and Increase Following Distance. When visibility is restricted, it’s crucial to slow down. You never know when another car or something else may appear seemingly out of nowhere, and if you’re driving too fast, you may not have enough time to react properly.
Make sure that you’re utilizing your speedometer to monitor your speed, as driving in fog can create a sort of optical illusion that makes your body think you are driving slowly. While driving, you don’t want to take your eyes off the road too much, but make a conscious effort to glance at the speedometer every now and then to ensure you’re not speeding.
In addition to slowing down, you should increase your following distance to make sure you’re not too close to other vehicles on the road. It may feel safer to be by other cars during foggy situations but being too close can be even more dangerous. Give yourself plenty of time to stop.
Use the Pavement Lines. When fog is dense, the risk of driving off the road or into the other lane can be high. To combat this, use the right-side pavement line as a guide and follow it with your eyes (without fixing them on it!). Make sure you’re using the right side as opposed to the center line, which may make you inch closer to oncoming traffic, whose vision is also impaired.
Stopping. In dense fog, you may feel unsafe being on the road and it’s perfectly acceptable to stop and wait until visibility improves. However, stopping in fog can cause a whole slew of other problems. Remember that if you are stopping because visibility is that bad, cars will likely not be able to see you! The best place to stop is in a driveway, parking lot or rest area. If you must stop on the side of the road, pull off as far as possible, even onto the grass. Stay put with your seat belt on and turn your lights off, otherwise cars may think you are still driving and you run the risk of getting rear ended. Remember, in the worst fog, stopping should be a last resort.
Dense fog doesn’t always last a long time, so pulling over safely may help visibility improve and you can be on your way quickly. Stay safe!