A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Police Department, DMV Offer Fog Safety Tips

December 1, 2014

Tule fog is the San Joaquin Valley’s most dangerous driving condition. Fog is a familiar foe in the Merced area during the rainy season, hitting the area hardest after the first significant rain fall.

It can reduce visibility to less than a quarter-mile, creating hazardous driving conditions. But the true danger lie with other drivers who don’t know how to safely navigate in fog.

The fog’s effect on visibility can vary throughout the day from location to location, with little warning to drivers. Please slow down and avoid distracted driving.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the best advice for driving in the fog is: Don't. Postpone trips until the fog lifts, by late morning or early afternoon on most days. If you must drive in the fog, allow extra time to get to your destination and follow these tips:

  • Wear a seat belt at all times and drive slowly. Posted speed limits are rarely safe in foggy conditions.
  • Keep an eye on the speedometer. Fog creates an optical illusion that makes it seem as if the car is in slow motion even when speeding.
  • Use your headlights at all times. Fog won’t always activate a vehicle’s automatic lighting system. It’s important to manually turn on your lights when driving in the fog without exception.
  • Use your low beams. High beams reflect off the fog and further decrease visibility.
  • Watch for bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Listen for traffic. At intersections, open your window so you can hear vehicles you can’t see.
  • Use the right edge of the road or white line as a lane guide and to avoid driving off the road by mistake.
  • Allow for a safe following distance and keep watch for cross traffic.
  • Do not pass other vehicles, especially on Bellevue and Lake roads, where doing so requires you to enter the opposite lane.
  • Do not stop on the road. People usually follow tail lights in the fog. If you need to stop, pull all the way off the road, activating your emergency signal lights.

Report dangerous drivers to UC Merced’s Department of Public Safety, 209-CAT-COPS (209-228-2677).