Driving when it is foggy is a unique experience and it’s far more dangerous to drive in the thick, soupy stuff than you likely realize. According to the Federal Highway Administration’s latest numbers, over 38,700 vehicle crashes occur annually as a result of foggy conditions. Over 600 people killed and 16,300 people are injured, every year, because of it.
So, the next time a fog settles over your community, and you have no choice but to drive in it, please think about these seven safe driving tips.
- Turn on your low beams. You would think since you can’t see much, if anything, that you’d want to turn on your headlights to the brightest setting possible. But fog is made up of little drops of water, and when you turn on your lights to the brightest setting, the light is reflected by the water. In other words, the light is diffused in a way that can make it harder for other drivers and yourself to see. Your High Beam lights project a taller beam meant to reach greater distances. But the low-beam lights are projected downward and will cut down on the reflection. Even if it doesn’t seem to help you see better, your low-beam lights will make it easier for other drivers to see you.
- Don’t tailgate. This isn’t the time to drive close to another car (not that there’s really ever a time for that). The car in front of you may stop suddenly, slamming on their brakes because they didn’t see something until the last minute – which means you’ll be slamming on your brakes, or worse, if you don’t see what’s happening in time, slamming into the car ahead of you.
- Don’t worry about the driver behind you. When somebody is following you too closely it can be nerve-wracking. You might be tempting to speed up, so you can get away from the annoying vehicle. But don’t. If the fog is really bad, driving fast into nothingness is a good way to get into the accident.
- Focus on the road. In other words, and we probably don’t need to tell you this, but put the phone away, turn down the music and reduce any distractions. It’s never a good idea to text and drive. Thinking you can text while driving in fog is crazy. Don’t talk on the phone either. Drivers drive differently, partially distracted, even when talking on the phone.
- Remember your hazard lights. Hazard light can be used in a couple of ways. Hazard lights make your vehicle more visible. If you are driving and are under speed putting your hazard lights on will help driver’s that may be going faster than you to see you. If you end up pulling off at the side of the road to wait out the fog, make sure you’re as far away from the road as possible and then turn on those hazard lights. The idea is to make sure you’re seen, so a car coming up behind you doesn’t drive into you.
- Drive with clear windows. Fog occurs because of changes in air temperature. So, if your windows are fogged up, or have snow or ice on them take time to get them clear before driving. Sure, that sounds obvious, but if your windows aren’t completely clear you know how easy it can be to think, “I’ll clear a few little spots, and then I’ll be able to see well enough, and the car will warm up later, and soon, I’ll be able to see everywhere out my window.” Um, don’t do that. Don’t drive like that without fog, of course, but definitely don’t when there is fog.
- Use your defroster with the A/C on. I know this might sound crazy to have you’re A/C on during cold weather but the A/C will dry out the air in your car so that the fogged up windows will clear quicker. Turn your heat on the highest setting to thaw any external fogging, snow or frost. Finally use your washer fluid and wipers to help clear windshields. Good quality washer fluid can assist in melting unwanted fog, snow or frost. If you’ve purchased any wipers and need help installing them, or you feel like you need better headlights, or perhaps your defroster isn’t operating properly, you can get help from your friends at Milex Complete Auto Care.
Remember, the next time it’s foggy and you need to drive, take extra precautions before you leave. That is, if you have to go out at all. If it makes sense to stay put, please do. As you can imagine, the safest way to drive in fog is to not drive in fog.