So far this winter we have had every kind of adverse weather to contend with – from cold conditions, to ice and snow, as well as the usual mist and even fog in urban areas. Fog, and foggy patches in particular, are nothing new to those living outside of urban centres, however, they can still take us by surprise from time to time. This month we are looking at how to drive safely in any kind of foggy conditions – whether we are blanketed by it or we encounter the odd patch in the early morning or evening.
Fog is one of the most dangerous weather conditions to be driving in as it can severely reduce visibility within a very short distance. Whether you are an experienced or novice driver, it takes a lot of energy and focus to ensure that you stay safe. Our top tips for driving in foggy conditions are:
Your first reaction should be to slow down significantly. You want to be able to react to any hazards or other road users quickly and your reaction time is severely reduced when visibility is low. Check your mirrors before slowing down to make sure that you are not being followed too closely by other vehicles that could crash into you. Apply the brakes gently to give notice that you are reducing your speed. Equally, don’t accelerate suddenly to get away from a vehicle that is too close behind as you there may be obstacles ahead that you can’t see.
Stop and wait
In areas where visibility is particularly challenging it may be best to find a safe place to stop and wait for conditions to improve before continuing on your journey. If you are stopping, try to find a parking area, but if none is available then ensure you are as far away from travel lanes as possible.
Turn down the music or radio and pause any conversations with passengers so that you can fully focus on the road. When it is safe to do so switch to a station that will give regular weather and road condition updates so that you are fully informed of what is happening up ahead. You shouldn’t have your mobile phone on, but if you do put into the glove compartment so that it doesn’t distract you if it rings.
Make sure that your low-beam headlights are on. These will ensure that other road users can see you without blinding them or you. Avoid using your high-beam headlights as the light will bounce off the water droplets in the fog making it harder rather than easier to see. You can use your front and rear fog lights when visibility is below 100m (or 328 feet), but you must remember to switch them off as soon as it improves.
You may not be able to see other vehicles easily but you will be able to hear them. Roll down your window, especially if you are at a junction. If you are moving out of a junction make sure that there are no oncoming vehicles and move quickly and confidently so as not to put yourself into a vulnerable position should someone be approaching.