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Tips for driving in mist and fog

Carlton Boyce / 15 October 2015 ( 01 November 2019 )

Stay safe on misty and foggy days with our tips for driving in poor weather conditions.

Car driving through misty and foggy road conditions
Don’t follow the car in front too closely. It might give you a sense of reassurance, but it’s a false one

As soon as autumn sets in we're bound to experience our fair share of misty mornings, and one of the certainties of winter driving is that it will only get worse.

While there is no doubt that driving in mist and fog can be unnerving, we’ll do what we can to try and take the fear out of it!

When should I put my fog lights on?

 • If it’s foggy, use your rear fog lights. However, they’re only to be used when visibility is less than 100 metres. As a rough guide, if you can clearly see the rear lights of the car in front then you don’t need your rear fog lights on.

 • If the visibility is greater than 100 metres then dipped headlights should be used; front and rear fog lights will dazzle other drivers, making a bad situation worse.

 • If your car has automatic headlights – and many do these days – it’s better to override them and switch them on manually.

 • Even if there are no cars in front of you, you are better off sticking to dipped beam rather than full. The fog acts as a giant mirror, and full beam will just dazzle you with reflected light. Front fog lights might help if you have them fitted.

Read our tips for driving through flooded roads

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How close should I get to the car in front when it's foggy?

 • Don’t follow the car in front too closely. It might give you a sense of reassurance, but it’s a false one. Fog and mist has a tendency to distort distance and you’re probably not going to have enough room to stop if they brake suddenly. A three-second rule is more appropriate in fog and mist than the usual two-seconds.

 • Conversely, if the car behind you is too close don’t accelerate to increase the gap.

 • Make sure you can stop within the distance you can see. This is the one factor that should determine how fast you drive.

Learn how to cope when your car skids

Use all your senses

 • With your vision impaired, your hearing can play a vital role in keeping you safe. Wind down your windows, especially at junctions, and listen to see if you can hear whether another car is approaching.

 • Use your hands to check for icy roads, which often accompany a foggy morning. If the steering suddenly feels lighter, then you’re probably driving over ice.

How to stay safe driving at night

Keep your windows clean

 • Use your air-conditioning when it’s foggy and misty to stop the inside of your windows fogging up. While your heater just warms the moist air up and recirculates it, your air-conditioning acts as a very effective dehumidifier, drawing moisture out of the air.

 • Keeping the inside of your windows scrupulously clean will ensure you have the best possible visibility when it’s foggy outside.

 • Don’t forget to use your windscreen wipers; you’ll be amazed at how quickly your windscreen gets opaque with moisture in foggy weather, reducing visibility even further.

How fast should I drive in fog?

 • If you are driving in a queue of traffic, the movement of the vehicles will often cause the fog to temporarily dissipate within the queue. However, the car at the front doesn’t have that benefit, and if you charge past thinking the fog has lifted you will be suddenly faced with the same impenetrable bank of fog that they are…

 • Be aware of other road users, especially cyclists and pedestrians who don’t have high-wattage fog lights to illuminate them.

Do you know about these eight recent laws that affect motorists?

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.