Foggy conditions cause drivers to face unique challenges. Fog is just as dangerous as driving in the rain or in snow and ice. Let’s talk about fog and 5 ways you can stay safe if you’re driving in it.

What Causes Foggy Weather Conditions?

Fog forms when water vapor condenses into small water particles suspended in the air, which occurs when the difference between the air temperature and dew point is below 4.5°F. When the air cools, it can’t hold but so much water vapor, causing the vapor to condense into cloud droplets.

What Are the Dangers of Driving in Fog?

There are different dangers of driving in fog, such as the following:

  • Reduced visibility (it will be difficult to see the road, road signs, pedestrians, and other vehicles)
  • Chain-reaction auto accidents
  • Multiple car pile-ups
  • Increased risk of accidents due to impaired navigation
  • Difficulty judging speed and distance
  • Reduced ability to spot different hazards

How Can Fog Affect a Driver’s Vision?

Fog is dense, which means it’s difficult to see through. Also, fog changes a driver’s depth perception because of how thick it is. It can be difficult to distinguish between light and dark areas and objects on the road, such as other vehicles due to low contrast.

Your vision will focus on the objects that are close to you, known as the Mandelbaum Effect. This effect makes your vision rest at a distance of 3 feet when visibility is low. Under normal conditions, your eyes can see much further.

Can You Use Your Headlights In Foggy Conditions?

Good question! When you’re driving in fog, make sure you’re using your low-beam fog lights. Using either of these lights enhances your visibility and makes your vehicle easier for other drivers to see.

Using your high beams, also called “bright lights” will reflect the light off the water droplets in fog, so they don’t help as much as you might think they would. Since the light is reflected, it can cause a glare that blocks your view of the road or blinds other drivers.

What’s the Difference Between Low Beams and Fog Lights?

Fog lights and low-beam headlights are not the same. Your low-beam lights help you see objects that are straight ahead. Fog lights point down at the pavement, illuminating the ground underneath thick fog to reduce reflection from the light.

Most vehicles are equipped with fog lights. However, newer model vehicles don’t have fog lights. Keep in mind that fog lights perform best when you are traveling at slow speeds, which may become a problem if you’re traveling on a busy street or the highway.

How to Drive Safely in Fog

Experts suggest staying home if you don’t have to drive in fog. However, we understand that fog won’t keep you from going to work or running errands, so here are different tips you can use to help you drive safely in fog.

1.   Leave Your Destination Early

Give yourself enough time to get from one location to the next. It’s still likely that there will be traffic in fog, so you need to be prepared. If you’re driving like a responsible driver, you won’t be speeding because of low visibility. It will take longer to get to your destination, so plan ahead by leaving home or another destination at least 10 minutes early.

2.   Use Your Low-Beam Lights

When it’s foggy, visibility is poor, which means you could struggle to see vehicles and other objects on the road. Using your low beams can improve visibility, making it easier to navigate the road and avoid obstacles.

3.   Safe Following Distance

Instead of using the 3-second rule you would use under normal driving circumstances, in fog, you should maintain a safe following distance of at least 4 seconds from the vehicle in front of you. The extended time of 1 second is longer than you think. In 4 seconds, you can appropriately react to hazards on the road and avoid an auto accident.

4.   Stay In Your Traffic Lane

Staying in your lane can be difficult in foggy conditions, so use the traffic lane lines to ensure that you’re staying in your lane. Remember that you need to decrease your speed, so following the lines shouldn’t be a rushed task. It’s okay to take your time.

5.   Avoid Distractions

Distractions are a problem when it’s bright and sunny, so in fog, problems can worsen. Don’t worry about listening to your favorite song or texting your friends or relatives back. Fog is challenging to drive through and your undivided attention is required to focus on the road and avoid accidents and other road hazards.

If the fog becomes too dense, and you can’t see anything, even if you know something is right in front of you, pull over to a safe location and wait for the fog to clear. Fog often occurs during sunrise and sometimes during sunset, so plan your travel time accordingly. Slow down and watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Focus on the road and stay safe. Happy driving!