Coping with Low Visibility Driving

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

There are many causes of poor visibility on our roads. Blowing sand or snow, dust, fog and rain all contribute.   Drivers need to consider the following when driving in low visibility driving conditions.

  • Slow down. Since it takes longer for you to see potential hazards when your visibility is limited, you need much more time to respond. For the same reason, increase your following distance from the usual three to five seconds. If something happens, you will have enough time to spot it and stop without losing control of your vehicle.

  • Larger vehicles spray more water and snow than smaller ones, so steer far clear of them.

  • If your vehicle has fog lights installed, turn them on. They are designed to light far ahead of the vehicle on the road in a broad pattern to make painted lines and curbs more easily visible. They also have yellow instead of clear lenses to prevent the fog from reflecting the light back at you. 

  • Do everything possible to ensure that other drivers can see you. Indicate for longer before you stop or turn. Leave your parking lights on so drivers behind and beside you can see you more easily.

  • If your vehicle does not have fog lights, turn on your low-beam headlights instead of your normal headlights. The high mounting of normal headlights will make it difficult for you to see the sides of the road.

  • Concentrate carefully on remaining in your lane. Drivers tend to wander to the middle of the road when they cannot see properly.

  • Use the edge of the road as a guide. It will prevent you from drifting out of your lane, and will prevent you from being blinded by the headlights of oncoming vehicles.

  • Look as far ahead of your vehicle as possible. 

  • Adjust the defroster and windshield wiper speed as needed to remove moisture or snow from the windshield.

  • Do not speed up suddenly when you believe visibility has improved. If the fog hits again, you do not want to travel above the speed limit. 

  • Avoid all unnecessary manoeuvres. You can change lanes or pass vehicles when visibility improves.


If the visibility is so poor that none of the above suggestions work, pull all the way off the road, and wait it out. Your life is more important than your arrival time.