How to Safely Drive in Fog

fog on a road

At one point or another, you’ve probably had to drive through some kind of bad weather. While driving in fog isn’t the same as driving in a thunderstorm or blizzard, it can still create problems for your commute if you’re not careful. Foggy conditions in particular can greatly reduce your visibility, potentially causing dangerous driving situations and car accidents. Navigating through fog is difficult for new and experienced drivers alike, so it’s all the more important to understand how to deal with it when you’re on the road.

What causes fog?

A good way to think of fog is as a cloud on the ground. In general, what causes fog to occur is the condensation of water vapor, the gaseous form of water. As the water vapor condenses, it turns into water droplets that float in the air. Fog appears when water vapor condenses around other solid airborne particles, such as dust or pollution. You’ll usually notice fog when it’s extremely humid; that’s because fog requires a high amount of water vapor to develop.[1]

There are many types of fog, each of which forms in its own unique environment. Just know that when fog is considered dense, it means your visibility will be decreased to a quarter mile or less.[2]

10 safety tips for driving in fog

The best way to stay safe in fog is to avoid driving entirely or pull over and wait for the fog to dissipate. But if you do have to drive in fog, follow these 10 safety tips:

1. Use low beam headlights and fog lights

When driving in fog, you should use your low beam headlights and fog lights, never your high beam headlights. High beams can reflect off the fog and cause glare.[3]

2. Drive more slowly

In fog, it’s going to be difficult to see the road and the vehicles around you. By decreasing your speed, you’ll be better able to stop and react safely to anything you come across.[4]

3. Increase following distance

Increasing the following distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you will give you more room to brake and adjust to changes in traffic.[3]

4. Use windshield wipers and defroster

Reducing excess moisture is key to seeing in the fog. Use your windshield wipers and the defroster as needed to keep your vision clear and glare-free.[3]

5. Remove distractions

In foggy conditions, you want to focus on the road. Turn off your stereo, don’t check your mobile phone and minimize any other distractions.[5]

6. Listen for vehicles in the distance

You probably won’t be able to see every car on the road when it’s foggy. If possible, roll down the window to listen for any cars or emergency vehicles in the distance.[3]

7. Watch out for animals

Just as fog can keep you from seeing other vehicles, it can also prevent you from seeing wild animals on the road. Be extra cautious in areas where deer and other animals on the road might be a concern.[6]

8. Turn off cruise control

You want to have as much control of your vehicle as possible when driving in fog. Turn off cruise control so you’re able to quickly react to whatever comes your way.[4]

9. Follow lane lines and reflectors

Follow the road’s lines and reflectors to guide your way in fog. Staying to the right edge, where the solid white line is located, can be especially helpful.[4]

10. Avoid passing lanes

When fog conceals your surroundings, avoid changing lanes or trying to pass a vehicle in front of you. Doing so increases your chances of running into an unseen obstacle.[3]

If limited visibility from fog — or an unrelated hazard — causes you to get into a car accident, collision coverage is a helpful thing to have. Learn more about collision insurance and why it’s important.

 

[1]nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/fog

[2]accuweather.com/en/weather-news/what-is-freezing-fog-3/434465

[3]dmv.ca.gov/portal/uploads/2020/06/dl600.pdf

[4]accuweather.com/en/accuweather-ready/when-driving-in-fog-you-should-remember-these-tips/646607

[5]driving-tests.org/beginner-drivers/top-defensive-driving-tips/

[6]idrivesafely.com/driving-resources/how-to/fog/