WhoCanFixMyCar offers some advice on how to drive safely when bad weather hits
There are many things to love about the UK, but our weather unfortunately isn’t one of them. Our winters are grim and bleak, and during those glorious few months of sunshine in the summer, we have a tendency to complain that it’s too hot.
The thing is, us Brits just love to talk about the weather. Awkward conversation with someone whose name you can’t quite remember? Weather. Socialising with a colleague who shares no common interests? Weather.
We especially like to melt down (er, pardon the pun) when it snows. But there’s another type of weather that is, in many respects, just as challenging when you hit the road: fog.
At WhoCanFixMyCar, we believe fog deserves as much caution and consideration from drivers as snow, which is why we’ve put together this guide.
Before you set off
For any journey where you know you’re likely to hit bad weather, it pays to plan in advance. There are a few things you can do to make sure that you’re well prepared:
Check your brakes
When it’s foggy, not only is your visibility reduced, the road is also often wet, meaning it can take longer to stop. Couple that with the risk of unforeseen hazards and it becomes clear that your brakes are more important than ever.
If yours don’t work as well as they used to and are showing signs of wear and tear, it’s a good idea to avoid driving in foggy conditions until you’ve had them repaired or serviced.
Pack emergency supplies
In the event that you have to stop mid-way through your journey due to bad weather, having some supplies stored away in the boot will come in handy, such as:
Plan your route
Spend five minutes planning out your route before you set off. This will allow you to work out whether the bad weather is avoidable, and it’ll also mean you can drive with more confidence. Don’t forget to factor in extra driving time since you’ll have to go slower than usual.
Driving in fog
Use the right lights
According to The Highway Code, you must use dipped headlights when you can’t see more than 100 metres in front of you (for anyone who can’t visualise what 100 metres looks like, it’s roughly the size of a football pitch), but using front or rear fog lights is actually optional.
If you have them and the fog is thick enough to warrant using headlights, especially if it’s dark, we’d always recommend using your fog lights, too. Additional visibility is never a bad thing! However, make sure you turn them off when visibility improves or you’ll dazzle other drivers.
Instinct might tempt you to use full beam headlights, but this is actually counterproductive because the fog will reflect all that bright light straight back at you.
Keep your distance
When you enter an area of fog, slow down and make sure the gap between you and the car in front is big enough; whereas normally it should be two seconds, in fog it should be four.
Watch your speed
Because visibility is severely reduced in foggy conditions, maintain a speed that will allow you to stop within the area that you can see.
You never know what’s around the corner, so it’s best to drive steadily until you’re out of the other side.
Roll down your windows
When you reach a junction, rolling down your windows can help you to hear approaching traffic even if you can’t see it.
Follow road markings
When we drive, we usually keep our eyes on the road ahead. But what if we can’t see the road ahead? A good bit of advice is to keep your eyes on the road markings that are a little bit closer to your car that are illuminated by your headlights. This will help you stay within your lane and follow any curves despite reduced visibility.
However, as we mentioned earlier, it’s vital that you drive slowly because you can’t see any hazards that might lie ahead.
Keep your windscreen clear
Use your windscreen wipers and demister to make sure that you have the best possible visibility.
Wait until it’s safe
Driving in fog might not be discussed as much as driving in snow or ice, but it can be dangerous and should be treated with equal caution. Don’t feel pressured to drive because it’s “just fog”; if you’re really struggling to see and you don’t feel comfortable, the safest thing to do is to wait until the fog passes.
Plus, never stop in a place where you could cause an obstruction for another driver - when you pull over, make sure you do so in a place where it’s safe to stop.
What not to do
When driving in fog, you shouldn’t:
Rely on the tail lights of the car in front for direction
Rely on daytime running lights alone
Rely on automatic lights
To find out more about driving in difficult conditions, check out the following guides:
The best way to find out if your car is safe to drive in challenging conditions is to book a winter health check.