UDOT offers safety tips when driving in fog

Dec 20, 2023, 12:00 PM

Cars driving in the fog late at night in Roy, Utah...

Cars driving in the fog late at night in Roy, Utah (Derrick Jones, KSL NewsRadio)

(Derrick Jones, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — Earlier this week, drivers in northern Utah had to find a path through a patch of fog trapped along the ground by icy temperatures and the inversion. UDOT spokesman Mitch Shaw joins guest host Marty Carpenter to give out safety tips for driving in the fog and in the winter, too.


Shaw said UDOT employs a team of meteorologists who track incoming storms.

“Then we can pick our assets — our plows and our plow operators — and we can station them accordingly so we know exactly where the most significant storm is going to hit [and] how much snow it’s gonna dump.”

He added that if UDOT has enough preparation time, the roads can be pretreated before the snow falls, making them easier to plow.

Slow down when driving in fog

Shaw said the main recommendation for driving in fog is to slow down. Just because the speed limit on the freeway is 70mph doesn’t mean you have to drive that fast, he added.

“If it’s really foggy, dense fog, you need to slow down. You need to increase your following distance so spread out from the car that’s in front of you so if you have to make an abrupt stop, you can do so safely,” Shaw said.

The National Weather Service advises:

  • Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination. Make your vehicle visible to others both ahead of you and behind 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.

Good advice for any type of driving condition is pay attention, Shaw said.

“Pay attention like you would at any other time. Just be on the ball and watch what you’re doing. Make sure your car is in good working order and make sure your tires are good to go [and] your fluids are topped off,” he said.

The Weather Service also recommends that in extremely dense fog where you really can’t see a thing, the best thing to do is to pull over and wait it out. turn on your hazard lights and find a safe location, like a parking lot alf a local business.

Never stop on the road

If the fog is especially thick and you cannot see the lines that mark the traffic lanes, use the white line painted along the right side edge of the highway or road if there is one.

An important tip from J.D. Power: Never stop on the road. 

When you cannot see where you are going, a natural reaction is to slow down or even stop. In fog, never stop on the road. Find a safe place to pull over that is as far away from traffic as possible and turn off your lights. Leaving your lights on may cause motorists to think that your taillights indicate the lane of travel, which could cause a collision.”

. . . and one last tip from The Weather Service for driving in fog:

  • If there is no parking lot or driveway to use, 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.

Shaw added to that advice by saying: Stay in your vehicle.

“It’s usually safer to stay in your vehicle. So I wouldn’t try to get out and venture outside of your vehicle much because you run the risk of — you’re not protected anymore in your vehicle. You’re kind of exposing yourself to moving traffic at that point.”


UDOT sees progress in making freeway lines easier to see

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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UDOT offers safety tips when driving in fog