Fog is one of the most treacherous conditions when driving. In many places, it can come suddenly without warning, especially in some industrial areas where there may be more pollution particles in the air or areas that are nearby water courses, lakes or in coastal regions. When the fog is particularly dense, it is hard to see other vehicles on the road or even if you are on the correct side of the road!
Here are some valuable tips to help with driving in foggy conditions.
When fog descends, you will have less visibility and much less time to react to other road users. You can help to minimise your road risks by slowing to a more suitable speed. It is essential to slow down steadily, as harsh braking when hitting a thick patch of fog may not give the following traffic time to react.
Fog lights on
All vehicles are fitted with fog lights, and you must know precisely where they are placed and how to turn them on. Not knowing and trying to find them in a rush is not good. It is also wise to check them regularly in the winter, as a blown bulb will give you a false sense of visibility. Fog lights are exceptionally bright and should only be used in limited fog visibility or even a very heavy downpour with a lot of road spray.
Turn on your headlights
It is wise to turn on your headlights when encountering fog, but only on a dipped beam, as often full beam can illuminate the fog and bounce the beam back, not giving any improved visibility. Many cars are now fitted with automated headlights that will come on when the light is low, but with fog, there can still be bright conditions, and the lights may not come on automatically, so it is wise to override when necessary. Don’t just assume your vehicle will ‘know’ it’s foggy.
Keep a safe distance
It is always wise to leave at least a 2-second gap between you and the vehicle in front in normal conditions, but in the fog, this must be increased to at least a 4-second gap. This will give you much more time to react if they suddenly brake or make moves to avoid an accident. People unknowingly often have the urge to keep view of the rear lights of the vehicle in front when in fog. It gives a sense of security in what is quite a stressful situation. But this is dangerous. Be aware of this. Also be aware that it’s much harder to judge the speed of oncoming vehicles – be prepared; someone may pull out in front of you as they hadn’t anticipated your speed and distance from them. This makes the need to control your speed so much more important.
Clear your windows
Fog usually occurs in damp weather and can cause excess condensation inside and outside your vehicle, so make sure your windscreen wipers are checked regularly and use them to clear the screen. When necessary, the demist buttons should be on and keep the heater on warm as this can help to keep the inside of the car dry and windows clear from condensation. Check these functions regularly, as driving in a vehicle with insufficient screen visibility can void an insurance claim and is very dangerous. This is the same as driving in a car covered in ice or snow.
Listen as well as look
In very dense fog, if you open your window, you can hear the road traffic, especially before turning into or from a junction. Having an open window can also help with concentration. It’s also wise to turn off the stereo until you have passed the fog bank and the road is clear again.
Postpone your trip
If you are aware of foggy conditions on your planned route, it’s wise to postpone the journey. Working from home or rearranging a family visit would be better than taking a risk with fog, especially if conditions get worse on the road.
Keep a winter kit in your car
A simple kit in the car can help, a high-viz vest and warning triangle in case you have to stop for an emergency, a torch, a mobile phone and charger and water for the coolant and washer bottle. It’s also wise to have a warm blanket, water, and snacks in case you are waiting for recovery.
Switch off when clear
Once you have safely navigated your way through the fog, it is essential to switch off your fog lights as soon as possible, as they will cause glare for the drivers behind. If you are used to automated lights, then check they are off.
We have become very used to hearing about accidents in the ice and snow, but fog can be just as dangerous, if not more, as accidents can not be seen in advance. Knowing how to drive safely in the fog is essential.