Road Safety to Follow While Riding in the fog
Mid-winter always comes as an unexpected and melancholy surprise. With weather warnings abound, it's important we brush up on our driving strategies, particularly in low visibility settings. Early mornings can be especially susceptible to unpredictable fog. While beautiful, the whole of the West Coast seemed to get weather advisories this past week, and visibility may be reduced to as little as 800 feet or less in some areas. Being mindful of road safety practices can serve us well as we enter into these wetter months. And of course, safe is always better than sorry!
Paying close attention
Remain focused and vigilant if you choose to ride in low visibility weather at any point this year, as even light fog hides unexpected turns, bumps, and objects. Keeping an eye as far ahead into the distance as possible can help us grasp a clearer sense of spacial awareness, or maintaining sight of road-side paint. You can also gauge distance between cars by using the tail lights of vehicles ahead as markers.
It is common to ride faster than usual in the fog, since we do lack those usual reference points around us. Maintain careful watch of your speed at all times, remaining slow even when the fog lifts just incase it drops again suddenly.
Stick to the (familiar) backroads
It goes without saying that one should take no more risks than necessary on the road. Choosing routes with less traffic and lower speed limits is a wise precaution in poor weather, steering away from highways, busy intersections, and parking lots in particular. However, because the fog can be disorienting, it is just as important to stick to familiar routes. Don't try anything new on a foggy day. Plan for the simplest route that you know instead. (And remember to be mindful of all surroundings, pedestrians included.)
It is critical to use fog lights if they are available, as well as low beams or headlamps while riding in the fog. High beams will actually reflect off the moisture in the air, only blurring your view of the road. Without these, it is extremely dangerous to ride in a hazey environment. Washing all lights and mirrors with anti-fog before hitting the streets is a necessary precaution. Use a defogging spray on your shield and visor as well. The last thing you want is to be caught blind mid-ride.
Brightly colored, reflective clothing will help you stand out to other riders in a grayish landscape. Any clothing articles from shoes to helmet that draw attention without blinding fellow motorists keep you less hidden from those around you.
Other useful tips
- Pay attention to weather warnings and roadside warnings.
- If the fog is too dense to ride in, pull over at the nearest off-road or road-side location, turn on your hazards, and keep distance from your bike as you game-plan safe travel.
- Flash your lights at red lights by tapping on your brakes.
- Consider turning on your hazards for the entire ride. Safety is number one, and not only is this a commonly understood precaution for vulnerable riders, but your visibility will increase to any drivers who may be struggling to see and control speed themselves.
- Make your destination aware of your traveling plans and ETA before setting off.
- Fill your gas tank before weather gets bad.
- Sharp or quick movements may risk shorter reaction time to vehicles and objects on your path, so lane switching and passing should be kept to an absolute minimum.
- Utilize those hazard and brake lights if vehicles or other cyclists are following at too short a distance behind. Signal, move off road, and allow them to pass instead of speeding away.
- Steer toward the curb, or off-road, when making sudden stops.
Following road-safety rules is essential to successful riding in foggy weather. Alas, in the case of accidents, or if you were to find yourself stranded, have emergency numbers saved on speed-dial and always keep forms of ID on your person before hitting the road. Nonetheless, happy (and safe) driving!