Safety tips for driving in fog

Driving in fog can be dangerous, but slowing down, using your headlights, and avoiding distractions can help keep you safe while driving through the fog.

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Rachael BrennanRachael BrennanSenior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance ExpertRachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

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Anna SwartzAnna SwartzSenior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance ExpertAnna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

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Driving in any inclement weather can be dangerous, but fog is unique because it primarily impacts visibility. Fog is essentially a cloud that is touching the ground, which means that, although the roads aren’t slippery like when you’re driving in rain or snow, your visibility will still be significantly impaired.

In fact, if the fog is particularly thick, you may not be able to see more than ten feet in front of you. [1] This makes driving through the fog particularly dangerous, but you can take steps to keep yourself safe driving in the fog, including having enough car insurance to protect yourself financially in case of an accident.

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1. Turn on your headlights

Most modern cars have low lights, running lights, or fog lights that turn on whenever your car is running, but it is important to turn on your headlights when driving in the fog. Using your headlights makes you visible to people in front of you and to oncoming traffic.

Turning on your headlights also turns on your rear lights, which makes it easier for other drivers to see you when approaching you from behind. Standard running lights are only in the front of your car, which means you may not be visible to people driving behind you unless you turn on your headlights.

2. Avoid using your brights

You need to use your headlights in the fog, but using your brights can actually make it harder for you to see. Fog is made up of tiny aerosol water droplets or ice crystals that reflect light, which means the light will reflect back into your eyes while driving and make it harder for you to see.

If you have super bright LED headlights, you should consider reducing the lumens and lowering the angle of your headlights so you aren’t blinded while driving in the fog.

3. Slow down

Speeding is unsafe even in the best conditions, but it's even more dangerous in the fog. Fog prevents you from seeing things when you normally would while driving, which means you won’t have as much time to react to things like stalled traffic or objects in the road.

If you absolutely have to drive in the fog, the best way to stay safe is to slow down and give yourself plenty of space between yourself and the car ahead of you.

4. Avoid distractions

Distracted driving is never a good idea. Using your phone, putting on makeup, eating, and other distracting behavior while driving is always dangerous, but it is significantly more dangerous in inclement weather.

Because fog makes it harder to see and reduces your reaction time, anything that might distract you while driving makes it more likely that you will be in an accident, drift into another lane, or run off the road.

5. Use white lines to guide you

The white lines painted on the right side of the road are designed to reflect light, which means they will be easier to see in the fog. You can use the right-side lines as a guide to help you stay on the road.

But don’t use the lines for the center markings as a guide; this could pull you further to the left and increase the chances of being in an accident with an oncoming car.

6. Stay to the right

If at all possible, stay in the right lane while driving in the fog. This makes it easier for you to follow the white lines on the right side of the road, but it also makes it easier for you to turn into a parking lot or pull off the road completely if necessary.

Also, because it is so hard to see the lane markings on the road, keeping to the right also makes you much less likely to accidentally drift into oncoming traffic.

7. Pull over

If you can’t see well enough to drive comfortably, you should find a safe place to pull over, preferably a parking lot or other designated parking area if at all possible. 

And, although some trips can’t be avoided, like going to work in the morning or picking up your children from school, you should postpone any unnecessary trips until the weather is clear. 

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Frequently asked questions

When driving in the fog what should you do?

If it’s foggy outside, you’ll want to turn on your headlights (but avoid using your brights) and reduce your speed. If you are still unable to see comfortably, stay home or pull over until the fog clears.

Do deer come out in fog?

Deer navigate mostly by smell and sound, so they aren’t deterred by fog. Deer and other animals are especially dangerous because, unlike cars, they don’t have lights to be easily seen in the fog. Drive slowly in the fog, especially in areas that are known for deer, moose, bear, and other animals crossing the road.

Is it safe to drive while it's foggy?

Driving in the fog is more difficult than driving when the weather is clear. It is possible to drive safely in the fog, but if you have the option to wait until the fog has cleared to get on the road it is better to avoid driving in the fog.

How much harder is it to drive in the fog?

Depending on the situation, driving through the fog can be much more difficult. Because fog makes it so much harder to see, your reaction time is significantly reduced and you may not be able to see animals, construction work, or other cars in front of you on the road until you’re just a few feet away.

References

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  1. National Weather Service

    . "

    Super Fog

    ." Accessed January 17, 2023.

Author

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

Editor

Anna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

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