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Low Visibility in Foggy Conditions

Traveling in Foggy Conditions

Dense fog and its effect on traveling safety have unfortunately been in the news lately due to the tragic death of basketball star Kobe Bryant. Mr. Bryant, along with his daughter and seven others, was killed in a helicopter crash caused at least in part by low visibility in foggy conditions.  Dense fog can be hazardous to all types of travelers, including aviators, mariners, and road vehicle drivers. Numerous travel incidents each year can be attributed to foggy conditions. The Sacramento Valley is prone to dense fog due to its geographical qualities and proximity to two rivers.

Sacramento Valley Fog

Historically, February is one of the foggiest months in Sacramento. Though the number of foggy days has decreased considerably in recent years, Sacramento will sometimes experience what is known as tule fog – the thick ground fog that settles into the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. There were several days in January 2020 when a dense fog advisory was issued by the National Weather Service. The density of the fog is highest at areas near the American and Sacramento rivers – it can be genuinely frightening to cross the river bridges during periods of heavy fog. At its worst, fog can leave a traveler without any visual cues besides the glare of his own headlights in the mist. At least a couple of times during fog season, there are news stories documenting multi-car pileups on area roads caused by fog and the resulting decreased visibility. Foggy conditions can leave an unprepared driver confused and disoriented, creating a dangerous situation.

Safety Tips

Even experienced drivers can find themselves disoriented in the fog.  Nationwide, fog causes over 500 fatal accidents per year. When you find yourself on the road making your way through a thick grey film, keep in mind the following driving tips:

  1. Leave adequate space between your vehicle and that of the car in front of you. The decreased visibility results in need for longer braking times.
  2. Slow down considerably and factor in extra time to reach your destination.
  3. Use your low-beam headlights, which will also ensure that your tail lights are on. If your vehicle is equipped with fog lights, use those instead. Do not turn on your high beams as they can create blinding glare for you as well as other drivers.
  4. Use your defrosters and windshield wipers to cut down on the condensation and glare, which can add to visibility issues. Make sure the windshield, windows, and mirrors are as clean and clear as possible.
  5. Do not rely on the lights from the vehicles ahead of you as a guide. Keep aware of the road lines so as not to veer into other lanes.
  6. This may seem obvious, but maintain manual control of your vehicle and do not use cruise control.
  7. If you find yourself in a patch of dense fog with severely compromised visibility, turn on your hazards and pull to the side of the road. It is best to wait out such conditions. Be sure to pull over as far to the right as possible – remember everyone else is having the same problems, and you want to be as far removed from the thoroughfare as safely possible.
  8. Stop slowly, tapping your brakes to warn the driver behind you. Check all mirrors before and during the act of braking.

Should I Stay or Should I Go

As with any adverse weather condition, sometimes the wisest decision is to wait it out or reschedule the trip. Fog is usually worse in the early morning, and darkness certainly does not aid a driver’s visibility.  Sacramento fog almost always burns off before noon.  Delaying a trip for a few hours, until one can see the road and car in front of them, is a decision that is hard to argue with.

Watch YouTube Video: How to Drive in Dense Fog | Extreme Weather Driving Tips. This video provides some safety tips on how to drive in dense fog conditions.

Natomas Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury lawyer in Natomas. If you or a member of your family have been injured in an auto accident, please call us for free, friendly advice at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400.

Our firm has worked with Natomas residents for over three decades. Please review our website and our case settlements and trial verdicts or click on the links below to read what clients have to say about our services:

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Image: Unsplash by Kate Moum

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