Austinites, Do You Know How to Drive in Fog?

A Foggy Day in Austin

Twitter Credit: @TinaS_KVUE Austin Capitol in Fog

The Texas Capitol building is shrouded in mystery. The Frost Bank Tower peers out from behind a gloomy haze. Trees along Town Lake Trail appear as silhouettes, each row a mistier gray. Apropos of the haze, Austinities peer into the dense dripping sky and tweet, “What does it all mean?? #fog #nocluewhattodo.”

Aside from retweeted existential angst, fog should be generally harmless. The problem is on the road: many drivers do not know how to drive in fog. A city like Austin where it rarely occurs can become a hazardous environment if drivers do not follow these safety tips for driving in fog. Some of them are counterintuitive, so it is important to read closely.

1. Use low-beam headlights. High-beam headlights—brights—will reflect off the foggy water droplets that are currently collecting on your windows. In tests, a visibility expert driving with high-beams on could not see a pedestrian standing a few feet from his car. When he turned his low-beams on, the pedestrian appeared beside the car. If drivers do not know this, it could lead to pedestrian injuries or auto accident injuries.

2. Extreme weather requires constant attention to the road. Turn down the radio and follow Austin’s hands-free cellphone ban to minimize distracted driving. Distracted driving causes countless car accidents each year. While listening to the radio or an audio book are technically classified as minimal risk activities, foggy conditions heighten the danger.

3. Drive slowly! This may seem like a given, but many impatient people do not think about the danger that their risky behavior poses to others on the road. Speeding can lead to rear-end collisions, side-impact collisions, and even multi-vehicle pile-ups. Since it can be hard to see even mere feet ahead of you on the road, it can be negligent to even go at the speed limit.

4. Give the driver in front of you some space. Keep a safe distance between yourself and other vehicles. Experts say that you should be three lane markers behind the next car up. While this may feel strange, it will allow you time to brake or slow down if necessary.

Stay safe today, Austinites, and remember, the sun will come out tomorrow (..probably. Definitely by next week).