Yesterday’s drive through Bellingham was especially foggy, which made me think about another driving tips blog post. Did you know that driving in fog is considered to be the most dangerous weather hazard? It’s because fog is the number one cause of those terrible multi-vehicle pile ups you hear about occasionally. Unfortunately, if you come upon one in a high speed scenario such as on the highway, it might be too late to do much about it. Here are some tips and ideas for how to handle fog conditions and increase your chances of a safe ride.
Don’t speed up
It would seem like a no-brainer to not go faster the less you can see beyond your windshield, but it turns out, this is not always the case. Fog creates an optical illusion, because your body lacks points of reference of things you’re passing, and begins to feel as if you’re going slower than you are. Since drivers don’t tend to check the speedometer as often while in tense driving situations, this can mean that the speed gradually increases. Make sure you glance at the dash and check your speed once in awhile to make sure you’re not going faster than you think.
Turn your headlights on while you’re in fog. Relying on your daytime running lights is not enough. Even if you feel like your lights are blinding you because of the reflections on the water droplets, keep them on. With no lights, you are invisible to other drivers outside of the last second before they would hit you. If your car has fog lights, that’s the best option, so use those. They are positioned lower on your car so they don’t cause as much reflecting glare and other drivers can still see you. Bottom line is, stay visible to other cars. Also, don’t use your high beams. They decrease your visibility because they create so much reflection off the water vapor. Just opt for your fog lights or low beams as they best way to be seen.
Follow The Lines
When driving in fog, it’s a good idea to follow the lines on the road with your eyes. This is the best way to ensure you stay in your lane. Drivers are typically attracted to lights, and subconsciously, will steer toward them. Where your thoughts go, your actions follow, so keep your focus on the lines and you’ll see that you’re staying in your lane. This doesn’t mean I’m telling you to fixate your gaze; keep your eyes moving, and let these lines guide you.
Increase Your Following Distance
This is another obvious one, but again, when you’ve got a bunch of nervous drivers on a highway, the subconscious takes the wheel and bad things can happen. Most drivers tend to gravitate towards other cars, feeling it’s safer than being alone in the fog. But now is not the time to bunch up. This is one of the main reasons massive pile-ups occur.
If You Need To Stop
It’s possible that the fog may become too thick to drive safely. Luckily, these situations are rare and temporary. But if you’re far out of your comfort zone and don’t feel you can drive safely, you will want to pull over. However, this is an extremely dangerous situations, because if you can’t see, it means no one else can either. If they come upon your car suddenly and hit you, it can be a terrible accident. Pull off the road if you can – into a driveway, parking lot, rest area, side street – any place where you can get out of the flow of traffic. If those options aren’t available and the road’s shoulder is your only option, pull way over. Into the grass if you have to; if there’s a curb, drive over it and get on the other side. Remain in the vehicle with your seat belt on if there is not a safe shelter to go to, and turn off your lights. This is very important for the previously mentioned tendency for drivers to go towards lights. If your lights are on, people might think you’re where the road is and rear-end you. Don’t put on your flashers, either, just turn all lights off.
When fog warnings or advisories are issued, simply do not drive (this is especially true during fog warnings). It doesn’t matter how good you and the other drivers on the roadway are, if you can’t see, you can’t possibly drive safely.
Bill Coats Law is located in downtown Bellingham, Washington. Bill Coats is a personal injury attorney working with accident victims for a fast, full and fair settlement. Reach him by phone at (360) 392-2833 or through this form here.