Dense fog might not be a regular occurrence for many local drivers, but certain areas of SA are prone to mist or foggy conditions that can quickly catch unsuspecting drivers off guard.
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If you’ve never driven in dense fog, it can be a very disconcerting experience, especially if you don’t know the roads. Similar to rainy conditions, staying safe while driving in fog involves staying alert and avoiding erratic driving behaviour.
1. Keep moving
Fog can drastically reduce visibility and most people’s first reaction is to hit the brakes. Remember: any sudden and sharp braking won’t give vehicles behind you enough time to react (especially if their visibility is impaired as well), which can cause a nasty accident.
The best advice is to reduce your speed to a point where you are comfortable that you’ll have enough time to react should there be any turns/obstacles in the road ahead but don’t come to a complete and sudden stop.
Switch your aircon to the ‘windscreen demister’ setting, or if you don’t have that specific setting, direct warm air to the windscreen. Without demisting, you can double the effect of fog, because not only are you trying to see through the fog outside but your windscreen is also misted up.
Quick tip: The “windscreen demister” icon looks like this: and should be used together with the non-recycle air setting to be most effective.
The non-recycle icon shows air entering from the outside of the vehicle.
The recycle icon shows air circulating in the cabin and should be switched “off” when you are demisting your windscreen.
3. Avoid brights
The ‘bright’ setting on your lights is only meant to extend your range of visibility in clear weather and on dark roads. In foggy conditions, the moisture in the air acts as a mirror and will bounce the bright light back to you - creating the exact opposite effect and further reducing your visibility.
Fog lights are (literally) the correct lights to use in this instance. They’re not as bright and they are set to shine low to the ground, which reduces the ‘mirror’ effect and also doesn’t blind oncoming vehicles.
4. Wet roads
Fog is caused by fine water particles in the air, so the same road rules for rain will apply. This means there is moisture on the roads, and on your windscreen. If you’re driving in dense fog, turn on your wipers and remember that the road is wet, so it is likely to be slippery.
5. Think ahead
Always remember: even if you are being extra cautious, others might not be doing the same. Make sure you are ready to react should the vehicle in front of you skid or suddenly come to a stop.
As with many road safety tips, those for driving in dense fog revolve around staying alert, not reacting out of panic, and ensuring your light settings are suited to the conditions. There is nothing more beautiful than a picture-perfect misty mountain setting - but if you’re driving through it, make sure you’re staying as safe as possible.
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