Be safe in the fog

OKEECHOBEE — According to a study done by the Federal Highway Administration in 2016, there were an average of 25,451 fog-related automobile crashes each year between 2007 and 2016. An average of 464 people were killed in those accidents and 8,902 people were injured. This is close to the same number killed in accidents involving snow or ice.

AAA sponsored a study in 2016 which found that fog is the only weather condition that results in a statistically elevated rate of fatalities per crash. The author of the study, Brian C. Tefft, found when a crash occurred on a snow-covered road, there were 47% fewer fatalities than on dry roads. When it came to icy roads, he found they had 29% fewer fatalities, but “crashes that occurred in fog resulted in 155% more fatalities per crash than crashes that occurred in clear weather after adjustment for other factors associated with crash severity.”

According to the National Weather Service, there are several types of fog — radiation, advection, freezing, super, mountain/valley and fog over water.

Radiation fog is very common in the United States, especially in the fall and winter. This is fog that forms overnight as the air closer to the ground cools down. The more the air cools, the thicker the fog gets. This fog usually stays in one place and goes away as the sun comes up and warms the air.

Advection fog is different from radiation fog because it forms even in windy conditions and it moves across the landscape. It sometimes remains for days and is most common on the West Coast.

Freezing fog occurs when the tiny droplets of water in the fog freeze. These drops can freeze on trees, walkways, stairs, roads and vehicles. They can also cause black ice to form on roadways, which is very difficult to see.

Super fog is formed from a mixture of smoke and moisture from damp organic material such as leaves mixes with cooler, nearly saturated air. Super fog is usually present in low-terrain areas like creeks and ditches. It is very dangerous when it forms over highways.

Mountain/valley fog forms in the valleys and is most common during autumn and spring. It is the thickest around sunrise when temperatures are usually the lowest.

Fog over water forms over any large body of water. It is often called sea fog or lake fog.

Driving through fog can be a scary thing, but following some safety tips from the National Weather Service can help make it a little less nerve-wracking:

• Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination.

• Make your vehicle visible to others both ahead of you and behind you by using your low-beam headlights since this means your taillights will also be on. Use fog lights if you have them.

• Never use your high-beam lights. Using high beam lights causes glare, making it more difficult for you to see what’s ahead of you on the road.

• Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for sudden stops or changes in the traffic pattern.

• To ensure you are staying in the proper lane, follow the lines on the road with your eyes.

• In extremely dense fog where visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on your hazard lights, then simply pull into a safe location such as a parking lot of a local business and stop.

• If there is no parking lot or driveway to pull into, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road as far as possible. Once you come to a stop, turn off all lights except your hazard flashing lights, set the emergency brake, and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the tail lights are not illuminated so that other drivers don’t mistakenly run into you.

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