Driving Safely in the Fog
By Heather Klinefelter, Outreach Specialist
It’s probably been a while since you took your driver’s test. If you need a refresher course, PennDOT lists fog as one of the most dangerous driving conditions you will encounter on the road. Pennsylvania has a lot of foggy conditions, between the seasons, hills, and valleys (not to mention the humidity), South Central PA is ripe for pea soup.
While it may be tempting to slow down to a crawl during heavy fog, it’s not always the safest thing. “When you come to an especially dense area of fog, your first instinct might be to stop so that you can regain your bearings. Remember that other vehicles are behind you and will be coming upon the same reduced visibility. Stopping in the middle of the road in decreased visibility will increase your chances of getting rear-ended by an approaching vehicle. Stopping your car could cause a chain reaction and a major pileup.” – Driving Tests
According to the National Weather Service:
If you must drive in foggy conditions, keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination.
- Make your vehicle visible to others both ahead of you and behind you by using your low-beam headlights since this means your taillights will also be on. Use fog lights if you have them.
- Never use your high-beam lights. Using high beam lights causes glare, making it more difficult for you to see what’s ahead of you on the road.
- Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for sudden stops or changes in the traffic pattern.
- To ensure you are staying in the proper lane, follow the lines on the road with your eyes.
- In extremely dense fog where visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on your hazard lights, then simply pull into a safe location such as a parking lot of a local business and stop.
- If there is no parking lot or driveway to pull into, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road as far as possible. Once you come to a stop, turn off all lights except your hazard flashing lights, set the emergency brake, and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the tail lights are not illuminated so that other drivers don’t mistakenly run into you.
Don’t forget to watch out for wildlife! Deer, turkey, and even cows can show up in the road out of nowhere during the fog. Be sure to take it slow and easy. Remember, in PA if it’s misting, raining, or foggy, you must have your wipers and lights on. It’s the law. Go slowly and turn on your defrosters. Because of the temperature disparities that cause fog, you can also experience fog inside your car. You want to be able to see on your commute for your safety and the safety of other drivers. Getting that defroster just right, even if you need to crack a window, will help improve visibility to keep you and other drivers safe.