Fog Lights And Driving In Low Visibility

Inclement weather presents plenty of road hazards for drivers, such as slippery roads and low visibility. Sometimes, due to changes in temperature, fog forms up and makes driving a bit more difficult. Depending on the thickness of the fog, driving could be next to impossible and prompting you to want to stop, which creates a very dangerous situation. Instead, follow this guide on driving in low visibility, and what tools help such as fog lights.

How Fog Forms

Before we discuss driving in fog, let’s talk about how it forms in the first place. Fog results from warm air passing over the cool ground, which creates a layer of floating water particles. Common times in which fog forms include evenings when the surface begins cooling the air above it. Another prime time for fog formation occurs in winter when snow or cold temperatures mix with warm morning air. The floating layer of fog sits about 18 inches above the ground, creating low-visibility situations for drivers.

Objects May Be Closer Than They Appear

One of the worst parts about driving in fog is the uncertainty of what lies ahead. A driver’s ability to see the road clearly means everything for their safety and the safety of others on the road. When thick fog sets in, you may not be able to see past your bumpers, a scary situation for even an experienced driver. On a low-visibility day, you may not want to drive and if you don’t have to, you shouldn’t. But if you need to be somewhere or if you run into fog while already, try following these tips for foggy weather.

As provided by JD Power when driving in fog, a driver should:

  1. Slow down, but do not stop on the road. It may be tempting to just stop when you can barely see in front of you, but this creates a dangerous situation. Since you can not see, it’s unlikely that other drivers can, so a car stopped in the middle of the road is not good for anyone. If you do not feel comfortable going further, even at a slow place, pull over in a safe spot.
  2. Use the lines painted on the right side of the road, not the middle. On most roads, there is a white line on the right side that can act as a guide in low-visibility. Although there are lines in the middle too, following those would put you closer to other cars. 
  3. Turn on low beam headlights, avoid shining them too bright. At night, when the lighting is low, a driver’s natural reaction is to turn on their headlights. Drivers encountering low-visibility might even put their high beam headlights on, but not in foggy weather. High beam headlights reflect off of fog, creating a mirror-like effect, reflecting light back at the driver. Low-beam lights, on the other hand, produce less light, which means less light is reflected back at you. Of course, investing in fog lights helps drivers see the road without reflecting lights back at them.
  4. Fog lights are the best for low-visibility situations. Some people mistakenly assume fog lights and low beam headlights are the same, they are not. Fog lights are usually located in the bumper, nearest to the road. The reason they are placed so low has everything to do with the way fog behaves. Earlier it was mentioned that fog sits about 18 inches above the road. So they shine on and illuminate the road, which means it’s not reflected back at the driver.