Fog lights: When to flip the switch

Car with fog lights on
Did you know there are strict rules around using fog lights? You can be fined £30 at the roadside just for switching them on at the wrong time. And if an accident happens or someone gets injured as a result, the penalties can be much harsher and include points, bigger fines and even a driving ban.

So, when should you turn your fog lights on? If you’re not 100% sure, we’ll shed some light on the protocol for a brighter (and safer) winter ahead.

Clearing up uncertainties around fog lights

Winter is on its way, and so are misty weather conditions. Motorists need to manage the inevitable reduced road visibility while also being mindful of driving etiquette.

According to the RAC, you should: “Use your common sense. If the fog is so severe that you’re struggling to see other vehicles, switch on your fog lights.”

But regardless of common-sense rules, many Britons use fog lights incorrectly and even drive around without realising they are on. So, are there any other pointers?

If you are driving in heavy mist and feel the urge to slow down to anticipate oncoming obstacles, you can assume it’s the right time to turn on your fog lights. When visibility drops below 100m, drivers are expected to turn on their fog lights to reduce safety risks to themselves and others.

“But don’t keep switching them off and on again, as this can confuse other drivers”, the RAC advises.

If you use your fog lights when it isn’t foggy, you could be endangering other road users and potentially breaking the law – not to mention being liable for a fine if caught by the police.

Some drivers use their fog lights in rain or drizzle, which unnecessary and poses a risk to oncoming drivers. In fact, the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 say it is illegal to use your lights to dazzle drivers coming towards you.

How to turn your fog lights on

Every car is different, so you might need the manual to find out how to turn your car’s fog lights on. But in general, you can usually switch them on by first switching on the headlights.

Next, find the fog light symbol. It’s often on the indicator stalk with the other light functions. If you’re not sure which it is, look for the little ‘jellyfish’ shape.

Once you’ve got it, you may have to rotate the end of the stalk, or flick a switch to the right or left of the steering wheel. In some cars, there is a button on the dashboard for this function, so you can look out for that too.

When you’ve successfully turned your fog lights on, you’re ready for safe and legal driving in heavy mist! (Just be sure to turn them off again when you’ve finished your journey.)

Want more tips for safe driving? See our top tips for driving this autumn.

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