During the winter months all of us experience foggy weather at some point in time and those in some areas (Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, and so on) have to deal with it much more often and this is one natural phenomenon that is unavoidable. You will have to drive under such conditions to drop your kids off at school and continue on to work. It is inevitable, whether you like it or not. Hence, it is best you learn the tricks of driving safely in foggy weather conditions.
To begin with, driving in foggy weather conditions requires you to be patient, cautious, alert, and sensible. There are other drivers who use the road and for reasons best known to them and only to them, they could be in a rush.
Do you really need to be out there?
Decide if you really need to drive when it is foggy. If it can wait, stay away from the roads till the fog lifts and visibility improves. You could get stuck in a long queue in the cold and at that point, you will regret going out.
If, however, you have to go out, here are few things that you should check before driving off.
- Make sure your headlights are working fine, especially the dipped beams before you leave.
- Check your sidelights at the front and rear and very importantly your brake lights.
Once you are out, keep the headlights turned on. If you have automatic headlights, use the override option and set it to manual. Use the dipped beam when you switch on your headlights, as light from the full beam will reflect off the fog and lower your visibility. Ensure you are familiar with the lights on the dashboard that indicate various systems.
When and how to use your fog lights
Nearly all modern-day cars come with rear fog lamps, while some come with front ones too. These fog lights can be used just in certain driving conditions. Knowing when to use them is the key and will help you in staying safe on the road.
Rear fog lamps should be turned on when visibility drops drastically. Turning them on earlier will dazzle drivers behind you. A salient way of knowing when to use them is to see if you can see the tail lamps of the vehicle in front of you. If you cannot, the time is right for switching on your rear fog lamps.
The front fog lamps won’t enhance your visibility drastically, but will probably help in seeing the edges of the road. Use the front ones in similar conditions as the rear ones. Very importantly, don’t forget to turn off your fog lamps when visibility improves since you will inconvenience other drivers coming from the other direction for sure.
Put yourself in the place of other drivers to decide when to turn on and off your vehicle’s fog lights.
Conditions inside your car
Fog can result in condensation inside your car. Turning on your heater helps clear it. There are times when you will not realize this due to the fog outside. So keep your eyes open. Remember clear windows give you a big advantage when it comes to seeing other vehicles and ensure you have proper visibility while driving, in general.
Get familiar with the heating system of your car. The car heater also part of the de-misting system. De-misting the rear window of the car is of prime importance. The fog may affect the side mirrors and in this scenario, the rear view mirror will be your only source of help. Use the car heater to help de-mist your windshield if your car does not have a windshield heater.
Driving safely also entails listening to the sounds outside. Often this comes to your rescue when visibility is low. You could hear car horns and other vehicles besides you even if you cannot see them. Turn off your music system while driving in the fog, so that you can listen and concentrate better. This is not the time to pounding out Metallica, Ice Cube, or Eminem.
Maintaining a safe distance
Even in ideal driving conditions, it is important to keep a safe distance from other vehicles. So, it goes without saying this distance is important in foggy conditions as well.
People don’t change their driving habits too much and in foggy conditions it could be a cause for accidents. You may keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, but the same cannot be said about the car in front of you. So take this into account and keep a bigger distance from the car ahead of you when driving in foggy weather. If the car in front of you brakes or stops suddenly because he is too close behind another car, you would have a few additional seconds to react.
If the car behind you is following too closely, try pulling over to the side and letting the car go ahead. If you are not driving that fast in the left hand lane then you should not be in that lane. Also, if someone is tailgating you and if they hit you because you have to slow down suddenly, it is their fault.
Keep in mind the road conditions
Foggy weather causes the roads to become damp, similar to what happens when it rains. Assume you are driving on wet roads when driving in foggy weather. It will give you an advantage while stopping and turning.
Remember, it is crucial that you drive carefully and slowly during foggy conditions. Make sure your lights, brakes, and heating system are working properly before you leave where you are at.