Safe driving in fog

Safe driving in fog
Reduced visibility which occurs during fog can be extremely dangerous to motorists, pedestrians and other road users so it is essential to take the correct precautions to reduce any risk.

To help motorists drive to the best of their abilities in these types of weather conditions the RAC has put together a guide of useful information and common questions answered, read on for our up-to-date advice.

What should you do when driving in fog?

Rule 235 of the Highway Code states that, before entering fog, you should check your mirrors, then slow down. If the word ‘fog’ is shown on a signal, but the road is clear, be prepared for a sudden bank of fog or drifting, patchy fog - there are actually a number of different types of fog and did you know that mist and fog are actually very different things? There is also a phenomenon called freezing fog

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During the autumn/winter season when there is more chance of fog it is key to ensure your car is in the best running state to tackle the conditions before it, meaning it is highly advisable to check your  lights are working before setting off.

How to check your lights and bulbs

Make sure you’re familiar with how to operate your front and rear fog lights before setting off, and don’t confuse these with your vehicle’s ‘full beam’ setting. According to the Highway Code, you must use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres – roughly the length of a football pitch.

READ MORE: What is fog?

If your car is fitted with automatic lights activated by low light levels, remember to check the lights are on, as they may not be automatically activated in foggy conditions.

Similarly, drivers whose vehicles have daytime running lights should ensure rear lights are switched on as most vehicles with this feature only illuminate the front lights.

Follow the ‘two-second rule’ to leave sufficient space between you and the car in front.

Don’t attempt to navigate using the tail lights of the car in front, as these can give a false sense of security.

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If visibility is very limited, wind down your windows at junctions and crossroads to allow you to listen out for approaching traffic. If you really cannot see, you should consider stopping until it is safe to continue.

If your car is fitted with air conditioning, use it, as it will stop the windows from misting up. Ensure the heater is set to windscreen de-misting and open all the vents. It’s also an idea to use the heated rear window and, if fitted, the heated door mirrors.

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When should you use your fog lights?

Fog lights should only be used in the fog. Remember, the Highway Code states that you must use your headlights when visibility drops below 100 metres: there’s no legal requirement for you to use your fog lights.

READ MORE: Is it illegal to drive with snow on your car?

Use your common sense. If the fog is so severe that you’re struggling to see other vehicles, switch on your fog lights. But don’t keep switching them off and on again, as this can confuse other drivers. Do not use full beam, because the fog reflects the light back, reducing visibility even further.

Do all cars have to have fog lights?

All cars must be fitted with rear fog lights as it’s a legal requirement. If your car has been imported, it will need a rear fog light before it is allowed to be used on the road.

Front fog lights are not a legal requirement, but if your car has them you should only use them when visibility is severely restricted.

READ MORE: Seven top tips to keep your windscreen clear in winter

Is it against the law to drive with your fog lights on when visibility isn't reduced?

The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 prohibits the use of front and rear fog lights to dazzle other drivers when visibility is not reduced or when the vehicle is parked. Using fog lights in drizzle and rain is therefore not allowed.

Once the fog has lifted, switch off your fog lights. There will be symbol on your car’s dashboard or on the fog light button itself: it’s normally an amber indicator for rear fog lights and a green one for front fog lights. 

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