Like all weather conditions, fog is simply a fact of life. Although it is best to stay home when the fog is dense, this is often impossible. In addition, if you are traveling any significant distance, you might drive into a wall of fog unexpectedly. Therefore, it is imperative to follow the best driving practices when driving through fog. Here is what you need to do to minimize the risk of an accident.
Although there are different types of fog that are caused by different weather conditions, fog is essentially a cloud sitting at ground level. It forms when the air temperature gets very close to the dew point, or the temperature at which the air is completely saturated with water vapor.
Most of the time, fog contains liquid water droplets, but when it is very cold out, icy fog can form. This fog is even more dangerous than water-based fog, because it can lead to ice accumulation on the road. Regardless of which type of fog you are experiencing, all fog “burns off” in the same way. As the ground temperature warms, drier air moves in and the fog begins to dissipate, first from the thin edges of the fog cloud, and eventually from the thicker center.
The speed limit is a maximum speed based on ideal conditions. Whenever the weather is poor, your first reaction should be to slow down. Heavy fog can limit visibility to near zero, making it difficult or impossible to tell what it is happening down the road in front of you. Check your speedometer frequently, as fog impairs the ability to accurately judge travel speed. Be careful not to slam on your brakes though, as the driver behind you needs time to react to your change in speed.
If your vehicle is equipped with fog lights, turn them on immediately. They will make your vehicle easier for other drivers to see. Don’t forget the rear fog lights, if you have them, to make yourself more visible to drivers coming up behind you.
Whether or not you have fog lights, turn on your low headlight beams to further increase visibility. Never use your high beams in fog, as the light will reflect off the water droplets and make it harder for you to see.
It can be difficult to see the lane markings in the fog, but try to focus on the right-side line rather than the center line. This keeps you further away from vehicles traveling in the opposite direction, whose drivers are also struggling to stay in their own lane.
Defensive driving is always important, but it becomes even more critical during times of poor visibility. Keep both hands on the steering wheel. Turn off the music and hang up your phone. Stay alert and ready to react at a moment’s notice, and always expect the unexpected.
If the fog is very thick and visibility is poor, err on the side of caution by pulling over. If possible, navigate to a parking lot or other safe space. Otherwise, pull as far onto the shoulder as you can, and turn off your lights. If you leave your lights on, drivers behind you may use your vehicle as a guide to the lane of travel, which could result in your being rear-ended.
Driving in fog is never fun, and it is best to avoid it when possible. If you must travel, though, follow the tips above to remain as safe as you can.
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