Driving in Bad Weather
Driving in Foggy Conditions

Driving Through Fog & Smoke: Safety Rules for Limited and Zero Visibility

Updated Aug. 21, 2019

Of all the adverse weather conditions you may have to deal with while driving, fog is the most dangerous. You cannot see obstacles, people and other vehicles, nor can the drivers of other vehicles see you. The best way to stay safe during foggy weather is not to drive in it at all, if possible. Do not start a journey if the fog is so thick that the way ahead is completely obscured a few feet in front of your vehicle.

If you must drive in foggy conditions, follow these safety tips:

  1. 1

    Turn on your headlights to increase visibility.Use low-beam lights, as high-beams will reflect off the moisture in the air and cause glare.

  2. 2

    Activate fog lights,if it is legal to do so and your car is equipped with them. Use fog lights in addition to your ordinary headlights, not on their own.

  3. 3

    Activate your windscreen wipers.Poor visibility when driving through fog is often caused by moisture build-up on the windscreen rather than by the fog itself.

  4. 4

    Do not drive with parking lights or hazard lights on.This could confuse other road users and result in a collision.

  5. 5

    Reduce your speed.

Drive slowly in fog

Slowing down is the easiest and most effective way to protect yourself when driving in foggy conditions. Keep an eye on your speedometer as having an unclear view of your surroundings can make it difficult to gauge how fast you are traveling.

You must drive even more slowly when you see headlights or red taillights. Fog can make other vehicles seem further away than they truly are. Increase your following distance and make sure you can stop in the space you see in front of your vehicle. Be aware of slow-moving vehicles ahead of you and check the rearview mirror frequently for vehicles approaching from behind.

Fog lights

Fog lights can be an enormous help in extremely foggy conditions. They are specifically designed to maximize your view of the road ahead and to make your vehicle more visible to other drivers, thus reducing the danger of driving in fog. However, fog lights are not legal in all states. Where they are permitted, they must generally be made and fitted to very specific safety guidelines outlined in the driver’s manual. Check your handbook for the rules concerning fog lights in your state.

Merging and passing

Crossing, merging with, or passing another lane of traffic is a very bad idea in foggy conditions. Poor visibility will dramatically increase your chances of misjudging another vehicle’s speed or distance and causing a collision. Only merge or pass when driving in fog, if it is 100 percent necessary. Fog can make the surface of the road slippery; always apply the brakes gently and smoothly to avoid skidding.

Be aware of patchy fog

You must still slow down when patchy fog allows you normal visibility some of the time. Use your headlights just as you would in heavier or more consistent fog. Remain alert and do not let your guard down in patchy fog, as you could drive into a heavier bank of fog where visibility is poor at any moment. Try not to panic if you find yourself suddenly unable to see ahead, behind or to the sides of your vehicle. Instead, follow the tips outlined at the start of this module.

Limited or zero visibility

When fog becomes so thick that you can barely see, pull off the road as soon as it is safe to do so. Be patient and do not continue your journey until the fog has subsided enough for you to see clearly. Always turn off your headlights and switch on your hazard lights when stationary on the side of the road. That way, other road users will be able to see you, but they will know you are not moving.

Stopping or stalling in the fog

Stopping your vehicle on the roadway in fog is incredibly dangerous. Other drivers may not be able to see you and if they can, they will expect you to be moving. If you must stop your vehicle, move it off the roadway as quickly as possible. Leaving your vehicle unattended in the roadway will place other drivers in danger. If your vehicle stalls and you are unable to move it, make sure you:

  • Turn on your hazard lights or place flares around the vehicle to warn other drivers.
  • Move away from the vehicle to a safe place at the side of the road.

Driving through smoke

Driving through smoke presents similar challenges to driving through fog, with the added threat that smoke can cause asphyxiation and a fire may be nearby. Avoid driving near fires or through smoke whenever possible. If driving through smoke is unavoidable, reduce your speed and switch on your low-beam headlights. Like fog, smoke can reflect high-beam headlights and cause glare.

Always steer, accelerate and brake gently when driving through smoke. Visibility will be poor and very dense smoke can cause damage and limit your control of the vehicle. Be aware that you may encounter stopped vehicles on the highway.

Would you pass a driving test today?

Find out with our free quiz!

TAKE A FREE TEST

Like the article? Give us 5 points!

Click a star to add your vote

5.0 out of 5 stars based on 1 votes.

Up next

Driving in Heavy Rain
Driving in Bad Weather 4 of 18

Driving in The Rain

Driving in the rain can be every bit as dangerous as driving in icy or snowy conditions. Water on the road’s surface can seriously impede your vehicle control, while the rain itself impacts visibility. You must understand how to manage theses challenges and drive safely during wet and rainy conditions. Every risk you face during wet and rainy weather can be diminished by reducing your speed; this should be the first action you take.

Hydroplaning Prevention & Recovery
Driving in Bad Weather 5 of 18

Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning is a phenomenon which occurs on wet roads, when a vehicle hits a film of water at a speed great enough to glide on top of it, rather than maintaining contact with the road’s surface. Increasing speed makes the water-channeling action less effective and can separate your tires from the asphalt, so they ride over the water like a set of water skis. When hydroplaning occurs, it results in partial or complete loss of control and steering ability. It is something that every driver wants to avoid.

Driving through Deep Water
Driving in Bad Weather 6 of 18

Driving Through Deep Water

When it comes to driving through deep water, there is only one rule you need to remember: avoid it at all costs. Even relatively shallow water can be dangerous. At low speeds, six inches of water can cause you to lose control of the vehicle and can float some smaller vehicles.

Review
Highway Driving Safety 3 of 4

Important Driving Practices

This section summarizes those must-know highway driving techniques and safety practices. Organized into an easy-to-follow checklist, this information can be printed off and revisited as often as needed; you may wish to read through it again before taking your car onto a freeway.

Highway Driving Safety 4 of 4

Avoiding Highway Emergencies

Practicing defensive driving techniques can help you avoid accidents and emergencies on the highway. You may still encounter crashes irrespective of how careful you are, as you cannot rely on other drivers to make safe decisions all the time. The nature of expressway driving means that a single accident or collision can end up disrupting many different vehicles.

Driving in Work Zones 1 of 2

Driving in Work Zones

The term “work zone” refers to any area on a public road where utility, construction or maintenance work is being conducted. There may be barriers, cones, heavy equipment, temporary signs, signal lights and workers in the roadway, prior to, during and beyond work sites. Nearly all states have chosen to discourage dangerous driving around high-risk work zones by increasing or doubling the fines incurred by traffic violations.

Driving in Work Zones 2 of 2

Work Zone Signs & Signals

Drivers moving through a roadway work zone will come across unexpected road signs, signals and traffic control measures. Traffic control personnel – often known as flaggers or flagmen – may be positioned around a work zone to manage the flow of traffic through the site. The increased risk around work zones means that obeying the signs, signals and traffic control devices established in these areas is every bit as important as obeying them elsewhere.

Driving in Bad Weather 1 of 18

Driving in Hazardous Conditions

Unfavorable weather and road conditions can create hazards that make driving difficult, and more dangerous. You must learn how to identify and compensate for these hazards, to protect yourself and other road users from harm. hoosing not to drive in rain, snow or fog, at night or during any other hazardous conditions is always the smartest decision.

Driving in Bad Weather 2 of 18

Driving with Sun Glare

Drivers are most susceptible to sun glare in mornings and late afternoons, when the sun is lowest in the sky. Sun glare is incredibly dangerous as it can impair vision and in extreme cases, cause momentary blindness. Less severe sun glare can distort road signs and traffic signals, leading drivers to make potentially devastating mistakes.