If you have spent any time in San Joaquin Valley, surely you have heard of the infamous “Tule Fog” that we typically experience from late fall through early spring. After the first heavy rain of the winter season we start to see traces of this thick fog coating the air, especially in the early morning and late at night. Since we do not see much rain here in Kern County, these wet weather conditions produce slippery roads and present serious risk for motorists. In recent years we have actually seen a decline in the Central Valley’s hazardous fog, partly due to the drought in California. However, with El Nino and heavy rains predicted this year, fog is likely to become a concerning factor in our everyday driving routines once again. In fact, we have already witnessed many foggy days this winter season and are sure to encounter many more over the next couple of months.
So, what can you do to better prepare yourself for these treacherous driving conditions? What personal safety precautions can you take to avoid an auto accident and personal injury? Here are a handful of helpful tips to put into practice when driving in the fog:
- AVOID OR DELAY YOUR TRIP: If you can avoid driving in the fog or delay your trip till later in the morning when the fog has lifted, this is always the best precaution to take.
- MANUALLY TURN ON LOW BEAM LIGHTS: After securing your safety belt and turning on your ignition, you should manually turn on your low beam headlights. It is important to recognize that although most cars nowadays are equipped with an “auto” headlight option, where the vehicle’s headlights automatically turn on in low light conditions, your vehicle’s taillights may not. Manually turning your low beams on will ensure that your headlights and taillights are both on, making it safer for your visibility, oncoming cars and drivers who may be behind you. Never attempt to drive in the fog with your high beams on, as high beams will reflect off of the fog creating a white wall effect.
- SLOW DOWN: Reduce your speed and pay attention to your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be traveling faster than is safe for the conditions. Fog can become thicker without warning, proceeding at slower speeds will allow for more reaction time and help you to avoid an auto accident.
- DO NOT PASS: Be patient when driving in the fog. Allow yourself ample time to get to your destination and do not attempt to pass other vehicles. With such limited visibility it is impossible to adequately see oncoming traffic and upcoming road conditions. Avoid personal injury to yourself and others by remaining patient when driving in the fog.
- DO NOT STOP: Do not stop on a freeway or road when driving in the fog unless absolutely necessary. If your car stalls, becomes disabled, or if you cannot continue for any reason- pull over well onto the shoulder, turn your vehicle’s lights off and take your foot off of the brake pedal. People tend to follow taillights when driving in the fog. Move away from your vehicle to avoid personal injury.
- LISTEN: Turn off your radio and open your window slightly to listen for traffic that you cannot see.
- USE DEFROSTER AND WINDSHIELD WIPERS: Utilize your vehicle’s front and rear defrosters and windshield wipers to increase visibility.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHA), driving in fog is amongst the most dangerous types of weather conditions a motorist can drive in. With that knowledge, we must make it our personal responsibility to adjust our driving habits accordingly in order to prevent an auto accident or even worse, personal injury to others or ourselves.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a fog related auto accident, please contact the Law Offices of Kyle Jones today to discuss how I can help with potential legal options.