Driving in fog: top 10 tips to stay safe

Driving in poor visibility isn’t easy, but there are some simple rules that you can follow to help make sure you get home safely...

Driving in fog: top 10 tips to stay safe

With cars gaining more and more automated safety systems, it’s easy to forget the simple steps you should take to see and be seen in fog. Follow our top 10 tips to protect you and your car in fog:

1. Slow down

When visibility is limited you’ll have less time to react to other vehicles and when approaching bends on the road, so slowing down to a sensible speed will give you more time to avoid any potential risks. Reduce speed gently though; don’t slam on the brakes if you hit a thick patch of fog, because that won’t give traffic behind you time to react and they could run into the back of you.

2. Use your foglights

All cars are fitted with at least one rear foglight as standard, and many also have front foglights. It’s important to make sure you know where the switch for your car’s foglights is before setting off on a journey. Turn them on as soon as you encounter fog, because they will make your car more visible than just with its ordinary lights. Although technically foglights should only be used when visibility drops below 100 metres, if you don’t use them in fog and have an accident, your insurance could be invalidated.

Driving in fog: top 10 tips to stay safe

3. Turn on your headlights

It may sound obvious, but with more cars fitted with automatic headlights, you may simply leave the lights switch on automatic. However, this means the lights will only come on when the outside light dips below a set level, so they may not come on if you hit a patch of fog during the day.

4. Use dipped beam headlights

This is particularly important in thicker fog because if your headlights are on main beam, the light from them will be bounced back towards you by the fog.

5. Keep your distance

Instead of leaving the usual two-second gap between your car and the one in front, leave at least a three-second gap to give yourself more time to react if they suddenly slow down or make a surprise manoeuvre.

6. Keep your windows clear

Foggy weather causes condensation and that can build up on the inside and outside of your car’s windows, so use your windscreen wipers and set the car’s heater to demist to keep the inside of the windscreen clear. Keep the heater on a warm setting too, because it’ll help the demist function work better.

Driving in fog: top 10 tips to stay safe

7. Listen for traffic

If visibility is very limited, open your side window and listen for other traffic before pulling away at junctions. It may also help with concentration as well as hearing other vehicles if you drive with the stereo turned down on the motorway.

8. Don’t hang onto another car’s tail lights

Using the car in front’s back lights to navigate your way along a foggy road not only stops you from concentrating on what else may be going on around you, it could also prove dangerous; if the car in front makes a mistake and comes off the road, you could well follow suit.

9. Delay your journey

As in any other severe weather conditions, only drive if you really have to; if you can work from home or rearrange a family visit for another day, do that rather than risking an accident. If you’re already en route and the conditions worsen, consider if it would be sensible to take a break from driving at a service area or café, or on a longer journey if you should spend the night in a hotel and continue the next day.

10. Once the fog has cleared, turn off your foglights

Once the weather conditions improve, turn off your foglights. It’s an offence to dazzle other drivers with foglights if the weather isn’t bad or if your car is parked, and you could be fined for doing this.

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Read more: The What Car? Guide to winter driving >>

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