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How to use your fog lights

When you drive in foggy conditions, it’s vital to know how to keep yourself and other drivers safe. Using your fog lights correctly is important as you can be fined for using them at the wrong time. According to the RAC your fog lights should only be switched on when visibility drops below 100 metres (328 feet) which is roughly the length of a football pitch, however, the organisation also advises that you use your common sense. If the fog is so severe you’re struggling to see other vehicles use them, but don’t keep switching them off and on again as this can confuse other drivers. Rear fog lights are considered the more important, while your front fog lights should only be switched on in severely restricted conditions. Under the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989, you are prohibited from using fog lights to dazzle other drivers when visibility is not reduced, or when your vehicle is parked, and never use them in rain or drizzle. All cars are fitted with rear fog lights by law and many now have them both front and back. In case you’re not familiar with the symbol for your front fog lights, it is a lamp pointing to the left with lines pointing diagonally down through a vertical wavy line. The symbol for your rear fog lights is a lamp pointing to the right, with lines pointing horizontally straight through the wavy line. Look out for these on your dashboard, steering wheel stalk or next to the dial you use to control your regular lights. There will be a symbol on your car’s dashboard or on the fog light button itself, which is usually amber for the rear fog lights and green for the front. If you have automatic lights activated by low light levels, remember to check the lights are on as they may not activate automatically in foggy conditions.

Be clear on fog lights

Car lights have come on in leaps and bounds, so much so that fog lights almost seem unnecessary these days. However, UK law dictates that a fog light must be included in the tail lights at the rear of every car. Front fog lights on the other hand are only fitted to certain models as an aesthetic add-on for higher spec cars. Fog lights are intended to make you more visible in fog or heavy snow when visibility is less than 100 metres (approximately the length of a football pitch), they’re not designed to light your way or help you to see further up the road. A bit of mist is not a reason to turn them on. They should only be used when your car’s main lights won’t be enough to make you visible to other road users. In the UK, street lights on 30mph roads are placed no more than 183 metres (200 yards) apart. So, a good rule of thumb for using your fog lights is whether you can see the next street light up the road from the one you’re passing. By using this rule, it’s clear that it’s only going to be in the foggiest or snowiest conditions that fog lights should be used. Once visibility improves, you must switch off your fog lights because you risk dazzling other road users. The important point here is about obscuring brake lights. As rear fog lights are brighter than standard tail lights, when you brake, drivers behind you may not be able to see your brake lights illuminate and won’t realise you’re braking. Another no-no is using fog lights when it’s wet. The extra brightness of fog lights is doubled by their reflection off a wet road surface, and the bright light can cause glare through other vehicles’ windscreens if it’s raining. In good visibility, front and rear fog lights simply create unnecessary glare to dazzle and annoy other drivers.

Using fog lights

In the UK, street lights on 30 mph roads are placed no more than 200 yards (183 metres) apart, so a good rule of thumb for deciding when to use your fog lights is whether you can see the next street light up the road from the one you’re passing. Use this rule, and it’s clear that it’s only going to be in the foggiest or snowiest conditions that fog lights should be used. Once the fog has cleared, remember to switch them off because you risk dazzling other road users. Check they are definitely off if you continue to drive with your headlights on.