Low-Lying Fog Creates High Risk
An average of 31,385 highway accidents happen each year due to foggy weather conditions. These crashes are responsible for nearly 12,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths. Severe fog caused at least three crashes on Indiana roads this week, killing two and injuring a number of drivers and passengers.
Around 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10, I-65 near Lafayette was the scene of two fatal accidents attributed to dense fog. First an Acura crashed into the rear of a semi, killing the driver of the car and seriously injuring the front-seat passenger; a child in the back seat and the truck driver were not injured.
While traffic slowed and stopped in response to this accident, a multiple-vehicle crash occurred involving six semi trucks, a van and two cars. The initial collision occurred when one semi hit the back of another semi, loosening its load and causing it to fall and crash through the cab of the rear semi, killing the driver. Four more semis and three passenger vehicles joined the pile-up and several people were seriously injured.
Fog hampers our ability to drive safely in several ways:
- Fog decreases contrast between light and dark and blurs the edges of objects.
- The suspension of very fine water droplets in the air scatters light. And headlights create “backscatter” by reflecting light back to the eye.
- Fog lowers the apparent speed of other objects in the field of vision. A driver may have a hard time discriminating between objects that are moving slowly and objects that are stationary.
- A driver may underestimate his own speed. Normally one gets a sense of speed by how fast objects on the side of the road move past; but because fog veils these objects, one’s speed perception is defective.
- Fog hampers one’s ability to accurately judge distance. Low contract objects are perceived as being far away, an effect that could cause a driver to follow another vehicle too closely or to approach a stopped vehicle too quickly and be unable to stop.
- When visibility is poor, drivers tend to focus their attention on the road immediately in front of their vehicle, causing them to be unaware of dangerous situations arising on the road up ahead.
In conditions of dense fog, airports deny planes the opportunity to land or take off. Highways, however, are always open for business, and unfortunately drivers often take to the road when they should stay home and wait for the fog to lift. If you feel that you must drive when it is foggy, use these precautions:
- Slow down. Don’t depend on your own perception of how fast you are going — refer to your speedometer and drive cautiously. And don’t assume you will be safe if you are going the speed limit — those limits were established for perfect conditions.
- Use low-beam headlights. High-beam headlights bounce back off of the water droplets of the fog and impair vision rather than enhancing it.
- Illuminate fog lights if your vehicle is so equipped.
- Do not use the painted line in the center of the highway as a guide. It will cause you to drive closer to other vehicles. Instead, use the white line painted on the right side of the road.
- Don’t stop on the road. If you cannot see and feel you would be safer by stopping, pull over on the shoulder, as far away from traffic as possible. Then turn your vehicle’s lights off. Why? Because if your lights are on, traffic approaching from the rear may think you are actually in the lane of travel and come up behind you, causing a collision.
McNeely Stephenson helps people who have been injured or lost loved ones in an Indiana car or truck accident. Whether it occurred on an interstate or a country road, whether it happened in dense fog or heavy rain, whether it involved a single car or was a multiple-vehicle crash, we’re here to offer compassionate counsel and rigorous representation. Call 1-855-206-2555 if we can help your family.