While planes will be grounded or restricted from flying into fogged in airports, motorists venture out onto roads with restricted visibility due to fog, snow, smoke, or dust particles in the air. Fog lights present on most vehicles, when properly installed both front and rear, safely illuminate the road ahead in these conditions and make the vehicle more visible to other cars.
Regular headlights can reflect off fog, snow, smoke, or dust particles in the air, causing glare that reduces visibility. However, white or yellow fog lights when positioned low on the car near the front bumper produce a unique flat and wide beam shape that cuts through fog and falling snow and dust particles. Rear fog lights, always red, are also installed on the back of a vehicle to make it visible from behind to other drivers. Both front and rear fog lights are installed on a separate circuit from the rest of the car’s lighting.
How to Tell If Your Fog Lights Are Properly Positioned
Fog is a vapor that sits about 18 inches above the ground. A properly-designed fog light will have an extremely sharp cut-off at the top to prevent light from reflecting off water droplets in the air, and will not appear more than 10 to 14 inches off the surface of the road. To ensure that the fog lights on your vehicle are properly installed, park your car on a level surface, 25 feet from a flat wall. Measure from the center of the light to the ground. Go to the wall and measure the same distance and draw a line. With the fog lights turned on, the beams should shine approximately 4 inches below the line you drew on the wall.
When and When Not to Use Fog Lights
Fog lights are designed to be used at low speeds in fog, heavy mist, snow and other situations where visibility is significantly reduced. As with high beams, in Oregon after sunset and during other low visibility situations, fog lights should be turned off when within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle and within 350 feet when following another vehicle. Fog lights should not be left on all the time.
Installing After-Market Fog Lights
If you plan to install fog lights as an after-market feature, be aware that Oregon has adopted federal rules that all manufacturers must meet. Products must be labeled, and anything that is labeled “not for street use” cannot be used on public roadways. Fog lights must be mounted to SAE standards with a separate switch, and should not be used instead of headlights. Fog lights mounted on an SUV or on a truck’s light bar or roof should be set at the correct angle to illuminate no more than 14 inches off the surface of the road while not blinding other drivers.
For more information on vehicle equipment and standards, visit ODOT’s Transportation Safety Web site, http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/Pages/index.aspx, or see the Oregon Driver Manual on the DMV web site, www.oregondmv.com.
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