Poor Visibility is Not Just About Nighttime Driving

Darkness is not the only thing that makes it harder for a driver to see. Heavy rain, fog, and smoke all can make seeing what’s ahead of and around you more difficult.

Consider this when you are driving in conditions with low visibility:

  • Earlier you read that parking lights are used mostly so that other drivers can see you. While this is true, use your low beam headlights when visibility is poor. This accomplishes two things: Your ability to see what’s ahead will improve, and the light from your headlights gives a much better indication of your position to other drivers than will your parking lights.
  • Be aware of the danger of using high beams in low visibility conditions, especially in fog. The light from high beams will reflect off the fog and directly back at you. If you ever drive somewhere in heavy snow, this is also true. And you can actually become disoriented if you focus too much on the falling snow and not on the road. Some time when you have a moment, look up the term “highway hypnosis.”
  • NEVER use your flashers or hazards in low visibility conditions. Remember, they indicate that you are stopped. If you come across another vehicle with its hazards activated, don’t assume it is stopped and use extra care as you approach it.
  • Use your windshield wipers and defroster as needed. Sometimes, the wipers will clear moisture from the glass improving your ability to see. You cannot always tell what’s “fogging” up your windshield, though. Remember too, that headlights must be activated whenever you turn on your windshield wipers.
  • When pavement markings are present in poor visibility conditions, use them as a guide. Just don’t lose sight of what is ahead of and around you.
  • We have already expressed the importance of having a clean and streak-free windshield. This is even more important in poor visibility conditions.
  • Driving when visibility is poor is no time to deal with distractions. Keep phones and the radio off. If you suddenly experience a problem, you can always turn on your phone. If you minimize your distractions, the hope is that you won’t have any problems.
  • Depending on the nature of the problem – fog or smoke, for example – know that the condition is temporary so keep your guard up until you carefully and safely get through it.
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