Residents of America’s cooler climates will attest that dense fog is some of the most dangerous weather you can experience when on the road. While rain and snow are commonly thought of as the most adverse climate conditions to deal with while driving, dense fog requires a different approach from these traction-impacting conditions because it affects your visibility rather than your car’s performance.
Fog is the result of humidity reaching 100 percent at ground level. It occurs more commonly near bodies of water and can form very quickly with the right conditions. Should you encounter thick fog, here are some ways to make sure you stay safe on the road.
Make yourself visible
Fog accounts for and is a contributing factor in over 25,000 crashes per year. When people can’t see what’s around them, they drive into each other and off the road. To avoid being hit, make sure your lights are on when fog sets in. Use your low-beam headlights and fog lights. Do not use your high beams, as the moisture in the air will cause them to scatter and will have a negative effect on your visibility.
Defog your windshield
Your visibility is already limited when it’s foggy, but the high humidity can cause your windshield glass to fog up, too. Use your windshield wipers and defroster to avoid this. To quickly defog the inside of your car, turn on your air conditioning and set your fan to recirculate the air in the car. Crank it up to full blast. The air conditioning will filter the moisture out of the air in the car and restore your visibility.
No sudden moves
Accidents that occur in heavy fog have huge potential to build into pileups because of the low visibility. As recently as May 2018, fog contributed to a 30-car pileup near Los Angeles. It can be tempting to follow the lights of the car in front of you, but do not speed to do so and keep a close eye on where the road is going. It is better to use the markers on the road than your friend’s taillights when looking for guidance. Do not accelerate or brake quickly, because doing so could cause a collision with the car behind or in front of you.
Know when to call it quits
Some situations will require you to wait the weather out. If you live somewhere that has particular trouble with fog, it might be helpful to keep supplies such as snacks and a blanket in your car in case the weather gets bad. If you are caught in fog that you’re not comfortable driving in, take precautions to make sure you’re not hit by other cars. If possible, pull over at a gas station or roadside venue. If there’s nowhere to go, turn on your hazard lights and pull further off the road than you normally would. Turn off all your lights except for your hazard flashers, so other drivers don’t follow your taillights off the road. Set your emergency brake and do not rest with your foot on the pedals.
Treat fog with respect
It sounds funny to say, but fog is a legitimate weather condition that needs to be respected for your safety. Some of the largest pileup wrecks recorded have come as the result of foggy conditions. These wrecks could probably have been avoided had people abided by the advice in this article. Compared to rain and snow, which requires more in terms of actual driving skill, navigating fog effectively is an intellectual challenge. Don’t let your ego get the best of you. Be cautious until the weather burns off—it will be for the best in the long run.