Fog Safety While Driving

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Fog, particularly when dense, can be very hazardous to drivers. Fog contributes to numerous travel accidents every year.

Dense Fog Advisories are issued when visibility drops to or is expected to drop to one quarter mile or less. Take caution and check to see if there are any Dense Fog Advisories issued for your commute before driving

Driving in Fog

Fog is a visible mass consisting of cloud water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth’s surface. Driving in fog is dangerous because visibility is reduced. Fog, particularly when dense, can be hazardous to drivers, mariners and aviators. Fog contributes to numerous travel accidents every year. To keep safe, follow these tips for driving in fog:

  • Slow down. If you cannot see where you are going, do not drive fast. Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination. Make your vehicle visible to others both ahead of you and behind you by using your low-beam headlights since this means your taillights will also be on. Use fog lights if you have them. Use your speedometer as a guide to regulate your speed, because thick fog masks the sensation of speed by removing visual indicators of velocity. Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for sudden stops or changes in the traffic pattern.
  • Use low-beam headlights. When visibility is restricted, a driver’s natural tendency is to activate the high-beam headlights. Never use your high-beam lights. Using high beam lights causes glare, making it more difficult for you to see what’s ahead of you on the road.
  • Use fog lights. If your vehicle has front fog lights, they can help illuminate the road and make your vehicle more visible to other drivers. Some vehicles have rear fog lights, which help motorists who are following you to see your vehicle from a greater distance.
  • Use the right-side pavement line as a guide. In thick fog, use the white line painted on the right side of the road as a guide. Do not use the center pavement markings, because doing so will guide you to move closer to oncoming vehicles, which are also driven by people having trouble seeing where they are going.
  • Do not stop on the road. When you cannot see where you are going, a natural reaction is to slow down or even stop. In fog, never stop on the road. Find a safe place to pull over that is as far away from traffic as possible and turn off your lights. Leaving your lights on may cause motorists to think that your taillights indicate the lane of travel, which could cause a collision.
  • Extremely dense fog. In extremely dense fog where visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on your hazard lights, then simply pull into a safe location such as a parking lot of a local business and stop. If there is no parking lot or driveway to pull into, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road as far as possible. Once you come to a stop, turn off all lights except your hazard flashing lights, set the emergency brake, and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the tail lights are not illuminated so that other drivers don’t mistakenly run into you.

Fog Advisories

A Dense Fog Advisory is issued by your local National Weather Service office when widespread dense fog develops. When this happens, visibilities frequently drop to one-quarter of a mile or less. These conditions make travel difficult. Take extra caution when on the road or avoid driving if possible.

A Freezing Fog Advisory is issued by your local National Weather Service office when fog develops and surface temperatures are at or below freezing. The tiny liquid droplets in the fog can freeze instantly to any surface, including vehicles and road surfaces. Freezing fog makes driving, boating, flying and other forms of transportation particularly hazardous. Visibilities are typically at or below 1 mile.

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