Simple safety tips for driving in fog

Winter has announced its arrival with a pronounced chill in the air, at least in most of north India. Winter brings fog with it, and fog can be quite a pain for drivers. Here is what to do and what not to do while driving in dense fog.

How fog reduces visibility

Before we jump into the dos and don’ts lets understand how fog makes it difficult for drivers. Fog is formed in places where the temperature drops so low that dew is created. It is essentially water vapor in the atmosphere which condenses and turns into drops of water. Fog is often confused with mist but is actually much denser, as it holds more water droplets.

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In big cities fog is even denser thank to the pollutants in the air, as the water droplets are themselves polluted and no longer remain as translucent as water usually is.

What not to do while driving in fog

  • Do not drive with your high beam on, as it reduces visibility for both you and oncoming traffic by creating a wall of light in front of you. And the high beam bounces back, making it impossible to see anything.
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  • Do not drive with the hazard lights/ parking lights on as it may lead other drivers to assume your car is parked and will also make your indicators useless on turns. If you do not have fog lamps, you may do this. But then remember to switch off the hazards and turn on indicators while taking a turn.
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  • Avoid overtaking as much as possible as you may ram into sidewalks, rocks, pedestrians or fall into invisible ditches in the dark.
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  • Do not take wrong U-turns or jump red lights even if it seems like the road is empty.
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  • If there is a break in the fog, do not speed up immediately. You could run into sudden fog again and lose all visibility.

How you should not drive in the fog is more important than how you should, because carelessness on your part may prove fatal for you and other drivers on the road. Also read: 7 essential winter car care tips

What to do while driving in fog?

  • Use fog lamps (both front and rear) if your car has a provision for them.
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  • Try to use the markings on the road to drive in situations where visibility is less than 200 meters.
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  • Since visibility is poor, it is best to drive at really slow speeds even if the permissible speed limit is higher.
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  • Keep a safe buffer distance between you and the car ahead of you, so that there is ample space to stop the car in case of panic braking. Panic braking is difficult to recognise and react to in foggy conditions.
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  • Drive in lanes and try and stay to the left of the road as emergency vehicles may be using the fast lane (top/right) to transport patients etc. Don’t go too close to the left – parked two-wheelers and ditches might be waiting for you there.

  • Sound the horn at regular intervals, especially at intersections.
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  • Keep your windshields clean by using defoggers or by wiping them with a cloth at regular intervals in case your vehicle is not equipped with a defogger.
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  • If your car does not have a defogger, roll down all four glasses by about half an inch to allow cross ventilation and prevent mist from being formed on your glasses.
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  • Most importantly, no matter how good a driver you think you are do not try to escape the fog by speeding up. Also whenever possible wait for the fog to clear out before taking to the roads, as no matter how many precautions you take, there is always the chance of someone somewhere putting you and your family in jeopardy.

(Photo courtesy: flickr.com)