Nova Scotia has more foggy days than anywhere else in Canada, but we still get some doozies in Ontario, too (we’re looking at you, Great Lakes). That’s why you still need to know how to drive in heavy fog, even if it only occurs every once in a while. Collisions won’t help your car insurance rates, and bad weather isn’t an excuse. It pays to prepare!
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation advises against driving in it, if you can avoid it. Low visibility increases the chances of a collision, so it’s best for your safety and your insurance rates to avoid these conditions whenever possible.
We’ll look into the technology that can help make a foggy commute easier, but let’s start with some basic tips for driving safely in the midst of reduced visibility caused by heavy fog.
How to drive in heavy fog for beginners
Follow this checklist to drive as safely as possible on a foggy day. They’re also just great tips for safe driving in general!
- Remove or reduce all distractions while driving. Turn off the music and tell whoever’s riding shotgun to put that phone away.
- Have a passenger worry about the GPS or Google Maps.
- Leave more space between you and the vehicles ahead of you. If this is the only thing you remember about learning how to drive in heavy fog, remember this one!
- Keep an eye on the daytime running lights coming toward you.
- Resist the urge to drive faster to keep tailgaters away from your bumper. Gradually slow down to a speed that’s comfortable. The other drivers can feel free to thank you when they’re older and realize how silly they were driving.
- Give plenty of warning when you’re about to slow down. Check for traffic behind you and ease into your brakes to alert them with your break lights. Four-way lights can work too.
- Use your fog and driving lights: your low beams are better for driving in fog than high beams! High beams reflect the droplets in the fog, making it look even more opaque. If you have fog lights installed, this is their time to shine.
- Even if you have fog driving lights, drive with your low beams on as well.
- Use your wipers and defogger to keep your windshield as clear as possible.
- Do not wear sunglasses or any kind of “night driving glasses,” as they only restrict light and visibility.
- If you have cruise control then don’t use it. It’s best you have full control over your speed.
- Don’t just look at the vehicle lights ahead of you. Keep an eye on other parts of the road to spot hazards further out (giving you more time to react).
- Reflective road surface markings are important guides. Keep well to the right of your lane without touching the shoulder.
- Don’t stop on the road where another driver could run into you. They won’t be able to see you in the fog.
- If you need to pull over, then do it as far into the shoulder as is safely possible and turn on your hazard (four-way flashing) lights. Pulling into a gas station or parking lot is even safer.
- Once you’re safely stopped on the shoulder of the road, engage your parking brake and turn off your driving lights which can cause other motorists to think you’re in a driving lane if visibility is poor enough.
When driving in fog, what lights should you use?
The addition of both fog and driving lights for trucks, SUVs, and luxury cars is typically expected by consumers, but some vehicle manufacturers claim that their regular lights act as dual fog driving lights. Research your vehicle to see if it comes with specialized lights before hitting the road, as it could help you out with how to drive in heavy fog.
Fog lamps are a type of driving light designed specifically for illuminating the road while you’re driving in heavy fog. They should be mounted on your vehicle between 18 and 20 inches off the road, so they can shine below the fog line, which is usually about 20-24 inches from the ground. This keeps the fog lamps from reflecting off of the water particles in the air like regular headlights, which is the crucial difference between driving lamps vs fog lamps.
Fog lights won’t light up the road as far ahead as regular headlights, but they’ll make driving in heavy fog much easier and safer. With lights that are shining directly on the road, pointed down, away from the fog, your vehicle will also be much more visible to other drivers. Other than that it’s wise to practice the usual safety tips for driving at night.
Halogen vs LED fog lights
Many vehicles, especially older ones, come equipped with halogen fog lights. LED driving fog lights are typically more expensive, but also tend to last much longer. LED lights are also brighter, and their white light can pierce fog better than traditional yellow lights—but if they’re angled too high, then they can cause more glare in fog than old-school halogens do, so be careful when using them.
All of us here at aha insurance hope that you get to drive on more beautiful, sunny, windows-down, wind-through-your-hair days than on gloomy foggy ones. But we hope that reading this has helped you learn how to drive in heavy fog safely (just in case). Also, keep a roadside emergency kit just in case! Stay safe driving out there, folks!