Fog may be one of the most beautiful of all the less-than-ideal weather conditions out there. But as anyone who has ever inched their way through it knows, it can also be one of the most dangerous. Particularly dense fog can lower your effective range of vision to less than one-fourth of a mile (pretty significant when you keep in mind that you can normally see trillions of miles into space).
As with all the less-than-ideal weather conditions, it’s best to avoid driving in fog (especially the pea soup variety) whenever you can. But if you’ve got to hit the road despite the fog banks, follow these 7 simple tips to improve your chances of making it to point B safe and sound:
- Drive with your lights on the low setting. Your high beams will just hit the water vapor that makes up fog and shine right back at you — limiting your vision even more.
- Keep it slow — and keep an eye on your speedometer. By obscuring surrounding points of reference, fog can create the illusion that you’re traveling slower than you really are, so watch that needle to maintain a safe but reasonable speed.
- Crack your window. What you can’t see, you can sometimes hear. Opening your window a little bit will improve your chances of hearing invisible traffic.
- Use your wipers and defroster. They can do a lot to optimize visibility.
- Don’t follow taillights. If you’re having trouble staying on the road (or even finding it), don’t follow the car ahead, which is likely as lost as you are. Instead, watch the painted lines on the right shoulder or the middle of the road.
- Avoid the temptation to pass. If you’re running late, your foot might ache to put the pedal to the metal, but with less than one-fourth mile of visibility, oncoming traffic can literally come out of nowhere.
- Don’t stop on a freeway or busy road. If your car stalls or breaks down, take your foot off the brake and pull slowly to the side of the road when safe to do so. Once you’re safely parked, turn off your lights. People tend to follow taillights when driving in fog, so it’s important to get out of the way of traffic as quickly as possible.
Next time the fog comes rolling in, keep these 7 pointers in mind and show that fog who’s boss (unless you happen to take a detour into the Twilight Zone — no driving tips known can save you from that).