Dense fog has been draped over parts of the Southland for several nights and Caltrans has alerted motorists to be alert for the condition. The Automobile Club of Southern California offers motorists driving safety tips to travel defensively in poor visibility, which is the most dangerous driving condition, according to the California Highway Patrol and which killed and injured 1,158 people in 2011.
"Motorists should plan extra time to arrive at their destination and watch their speed while commuting because speeding or driving at or near speed limits in foggy conditions is unsafe," said Anita Lorz Villagrana, manager of the Auto Club’s Community Programs and Traffic Safety. “It’s a lot more difficult to see vehicles and also to judge the speed of vehicles you can’t see. Fog distorts perception and creates an illusion of slower motion when drivers actually may be speeding in reduced visibility conditions.”
To avoid poor visibility crashes, the Auto Club recommends:
- Park in a closed garage. This reduces condensation and moisture on vehicle windows, when you start out for your trip.
- Defrost first. Before turning on the defroster, allow the engine to warm up. Turn the heat control on and if the vehicle’s windshield begins to get cloudy, open the side window slightly and turn the defroster to a higher speed. If you have an air conditioner, use it briefly to help clear the windows.
- Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will reflect off the fog, creating a “white wall” effect. If your car has fog lights (amber lens or bulb), now is the time to use them with low beams (clear lens or bulb).
- Reduce speed. Fog creates visual conditions that fool the driver into driving faster or slower, so slow down to a reasonable and legal speed and use your speedometer to gauge it. Multi-vehicle collisions occur because drivers are going too fast.
- Partially open the driver’s side window. Listen for traffic you can’t see and anticipate problems.
- Keep a safe distance. In fog, increase braking distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Drive cautiously. Avoid passing other vehicles and changing lanes, if possible.
- Stay informed. Tune into radio weather reports to know where traffic congestion or crashes might be located. If possible, avoid these areas.
- If stalled or a crash occurs. Attempt to exit the freeway or pull well onto the shoulder and turn off lights so another motorist doesn’t mistakenly drive into you.
Car maintenance is important to safe driving in foggy weather. Motorists are advised to:
- Make sure windshield wiper blades are in good condition. Streaks or skipping on the vehicle's windshield are signs of worn wiper blades. Many crashes occur because motorists couldn’t see out of smeared windshields.
- Keep headlights and taillights working and lenses clean. This vehicle equipment is critical to help you see and be seen by other drivers in foggy and also normal driving conditions.