December 20, 2006

Why do drivers use their fog lights when it's foggy?

Serious question, this…

Why is it that drivers automatically turn on their fog lights as soon as there’s any fog? I followed somebody in this morning whose fog lights were so bright that I couldn’t see their brake lights! As a result I had to make sure I had plenty of stopping distance so drove as though the person in front had no brake lights… whose fault would it have been if I’d run into the back of their car?

Don’t drivers make the connection that if they can see the car 400 yards in front that has only their tail lights on, the person behind them can see their car without needing to be assisted with fog lights? The time to put your fog lights on is when there’s no one visible behind you so that the idiots who drive at 80 mph in fog can see you appear out of nothing and take evasive action before wiping you and them out!

Like people who flash their headlights to say ‘thanks’ at night when they’re less than 5 feet from you, ‘thanks but no thanks’ for dazzling me with your fog lights!

- 67 comments by 5 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Hero

    £1000 on the spot fine for fog lights unless visibility less than 100m… book ‘em danno!

    20 Dec 2006, 09:45

  2. Eleanor Lovell

    Oops – i’m guilty of that. This morning I was anyway!

    But then why when there is fog do some cars only have their dipped headlights on?? Especially silver cars – I could barely see them this morning!

    20 Dec 2006, 10:04

  3. Steve Rumsby

    But then why when there is fog do some cars only have their dipped headlights on??

    I assume you mean side lights, not dipped headlights? The alternative to dipped headlights would be headlights on full-beam, and that usually makes visibility worse for the driver, rather than better, because the fog reflects all the light straight back in your eyes.

    Actually front-mounted fog lights would be better, but you don’t see those very often these days. Lots of “driving lights”, but they’re not proper fog lights…

    20 Dec 2006, 10:20

  4. Catherine Fenn

    Why do driver NOT use their headlights when it’s foggy?

    invisibility count for this morning = 3
    (journey of less than 10 minutes!)

    20 Dec 2006, 10:24

  5. Lee Davis

    I think a lot of the time it is more a case that they switch them on when they go through a bad patch and then just forget about them, In a lot of cars the switch and/or indicator aren’t particualarly prominent hence why you see people still driving around with them on when it hasn’t been foggy for days. At least some cars now have non-latching switches so when you switch off your ignition they reset to off.

    20 Dec 2006, 10:39

  6. £1000 on the spot fine for fog lights unless visibility less than 100m

    Typical of the law: just lay out a blanket approach rather than one that uses common sense where drivers should be adapting to the prevailing conditions!

    20 Dec 2006, 11:07

  7. Julian

    More to the point – why do some drivers use their front fog lights all the time! Get your eyes tested

    20 Dec 2006, 13:01

  8. I don’t even think about fog lights. I tend to consult with my passenger about all things lights related when I drive.

    20 Dec 2006, 15:23

  9. It’s useful for pedestrians who may be considering whether to cross the road and not see a car that bit further away. I was making my judgements this morning based on what lights I could see rather than what vehicles.

    20 Dec 2006, 16:12

  10. On Fog Lights: Front fogs can be useful driving down lanes at night, because they light up the banks near to the car. More than once this has enabled me to see Foxes etc in the hedgerow waiting to jump out. I have to say they don’t bother me in the slightest on cars coming the other way either. I only use fog lights on a pretty rare basis as it’s rarely foggy enough to need them.

    On not being able to see their brake lights: sorry still your fault if you rear-end them. You don’t have to brake to slow down, and if you are driving for economy you should avoid braking at all costs. I’ve been pulled over by the police for slowing down without brake lights showing. They wanted to prove my lights were out, they weren’t, I just wasn’t braking to slow down. How daft.

    20 Dec 2006, 16:30

  11. I’m more concerned with how bright lights are getting in general. I don’t think my eyes are getting scared of light, or similar, but I seem to be dazzled by run of the mill headlights (dipped). The reason being they’re not ‘run of the mill’. They’re big sod-off halogen things.

    21 Dec 2006, 00:51

  12. Adam

    It’s pretty foggy at the moment – so much so that my fog lights weren’t really helping unless I reverted to sidelights….. in which case I could only see 10m ahead anyway!

    If you’re talking about front foglights then this is either a simple case of someone who has forgotten or some chav trying to make his car look cooler :) That said, an old mate of mine had a Renault 5 Monaco with yellow fog lights …. no brighter than a candle so they didn’t act as a hazard whilst looking bloody cool.

    Rear foglights are a pain in the arse. Normally its some old dear in an Escort who has turned them on whilst trying to get the windows de-misted…

    21 Dec 2006, 03:15

  13. Richard Cross

    Re the comment about driving lights. Driving lights are actually not very common. Add to this that they are legally only allowed to work with the main beam (ie. undipped leadlights) and so you probably wouldn’t notice them coming towards you anyway.

    Those lights mounted (usually) into front bumpers are actually fog lights and are designed to work at relatively low speeds (30-40 mph) in very bad visiblility. If you are driving at higher speeds and find them usefull you are not looking far enough down the road when you drive. People tend to use them because a) they are so thick that they do not realise that they are fog lights or b) they want to look “sporty / cool” and do not realise that they look like a complete prat or c) both of the perviously mentioned reasons.

    22 Dec 2006, 12:49


    Actually the lights on the bottom of the front bumper are called’spot lights’ and are not actually fog lights and although it seems people think they are for the drivers use they are actually for other vehicles to see you and so very important. The only ‘fog’ lights on a vehicle are at the rear to enable vehicles to see you from behind and to the previous commentor if you cannot tell the difference between fog and brake lights you must have been driving too close!!! I strongly believe the more visible a car the better. My husband is a lorry driver and he hates driving in this weather and goes mad at people who dont have them on, bettet to be safe than sorry, we dont want to have a lorry hit us just not to be annoying do we? Merry Christmas

    22 Dec 2006, 16:28

  15. Adam

    Re: post 14

    Wrong, wrong, wrong… mainly because you have tarnished every car with the same brush :) My girlfriend’s mini has fog lights (which are situated within the main headlight) and spot lights (in the front bumper); my Focus has only spot lights but no front facing fog lights; neither of my parents cars have spot lights but only fog lights.

    I’m too lazy to type a more comprehensive explanation!

    22 Dec 2006, 18:05

  16. me

    I was driving home this evening at about 4pm. It was getting quite dark, and was very foggy. I was on the ring road, passing junction 6 (the station) when a car joined the road in front of me. This complete fucktard had no lights on at all except his indicator. I flashed my lights repeatedly to no avail. The car in front of him turned his hazards on, I assume in an attempt to get his attention, but he drove 2 junctions before turning them on.

    22 Dec 2006, 23:48

  17. I just battered my sister into turning off her foglights. Half 4 and it’s getting dark, it’s been foggy on her drive over from Essex, but as I pointed out visibility where we were was about over a mile (ie we would have been able to see our destination if the topography of the landscape were a little different).
    She finally relented when I said “illegal” a couple of times.
    A win for the antilights!

    23 Dec 2006, 17:34

  18. anonymous

    A few years ago after taking my mother to the theatre for a birthday treat I had dropped her off at her house and was driving home down Pennyquick (which is always tricky because the road is very undulating and poorly lit) when a suped up Escort came right up on my tail flashing his lights, I looked in my mirror and could see there were three young men in the car and my first thought was there must be a problem with my car, what shall I do? I could tell by the dashboard that I had my lights on but what if I had a puncture or something. I was in such a dilemma but decided to drive on although the car behind was practically touching mine and flashing relentlessly. Needless to say I was terrified. When I got to the roundabout they turned off and I drove the rest of the way very shaken up.

    When I got home my family said I should have taken their number and told the police (I was actually too busy trying to survive to do that at the time). I never did tell my Mum she would have been too upset.

    24 Dec 2006, 11:53

  19. Adam

    Fog lights are only to be used if its less than 100m. So if you had hit him then it is quite likely that he would have been responsible (provided you could prove that you were still at a sufficient distance to stop in time had you seen him braking)

    And you use dipped headlights in fog because fog reflects the light. So if you shine light straight out in front of the car it gets bounced straight back.

    25 Dec 2006, 14:44

  20. anonymous

    A lot of cars aren’t fitted with fog lights because they are superfluous and the most important thing to do in fog is slow down and drive very carefully.

    If the lads in the Escort had hit me they would have been to blame for sure but I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them especially as they did a U-turn on the roundabout and went straight back in the direction they had come from, perhaps they had had a boring night and it was the only way they could get their kicks…. I don’t think I’ll ever understand that sort of mentality.

    25 Dec 2006, 16:39

  21. ste

    adam , I am affraid it is yourself that would be wrong wrong wrong . Foglights are NOT situated in the main headlamp assembly because the fog would reflect the light , hence why foglamps are below the number plate and why you use dipped beam and not full beam in fog ,fog lamps are In a position where they illuminate below the fog!. Lamps below the number plate are fog lamps and lamps above it are driving lamps.

    03 Aug 2007, 11:30

  22. John smith

    Interesting thing about running in the back of
    someone cause you can’t see their brake lights –
    this is one more thing the tailgaters don’t think
    about – by tailgaters I refer to the vast majority
    of drivers. It really is most people on the road.
    You always have to consider
    the fact that the driver in front has no working
    brake lights. Never dirve assuming that the car in
    front has it’s brake lights working, especially if you
    have not had a chance to see the car braking while
    you have been following it.

    I await the day when cars are fitted with automatic
    lights, because most people are too stupid to be
    able to turn them on and off when they need to.
    We have drivers who turn on rear foglights at the
    first hint of fog and drivers who refuse to turn on
    lights ( or turn on useless parking lights ) when
    visibility is below 100 metres. As for the folks who
    drive around on front fog lights all the time at night,
    I don’t think it is as big deal as some people make it
    out to be. If they’re low down, the only really cause
    severe dazzle when they’re shining up into your eyes.
    But then again, dipped headlights, especially those
    awfull xenon things, cause much more problems with
    shining into your eyes, because they’re higher up.
    But you get crettins who are too thick to work out
    that the high mounted fog lights on some 4×4s are
    going to cause very severe dazzle all the time.

    30 Aug 2007, 10:29

  23. grumpy old sod

    Its an offence I think, to use fog lights unless visiblity is 100m or less – £60 fixed – and a damn good flogging!

    20 Nov 2007, 16:01

  24. Chris G

    i have turned my front fog lamps on and stepped out infront of my car to see how “dazzling” they really are….and they’re not bright at all…. i have seen hi end mercedes/BMW’s with more dazzling lights as they’re fitted with xenon upgrades using ballasts and sticking a lot more voltage to the bulbs….

    this to me is a lot more harsh when driving at night than passing someone with front fog lights on…

    i do agree about rears when u cant see the car in front of you through fog you must realize the cars behind you have the same trouble which is the point where i turn my rear on to make sure im seen by the prats doing 70 mph or severely swerving between traffic!!

    normally dash lights indicate severity of problems IE high beam is normally a bright blue light n the dash and oil lights are RED

    my front fogs light up with a green light and my rear with an orange ….doesn’t this represent to the driver just a tiny clue as to what sort of hazard or potential problem is going on with the car?

    or do the manufacturers just choose a colour from the rainbow to indicate things on the dash(!)

    another little quip with lighting! why dont people use there in built motors to lower their lights when they have a loaded car! i can see my lights level and when its raised to the point its reaching someone’s bonnet i lower the lights i know some cars don’t have this but the modern cars do! and people should make use of this practical and simple device!!

    rant over….:)

    31 Oct 2008, 12:18

  25. NickRP

    I find it incredible that people can be so inconsiderate by driving along with fog/spot/lights on (and the red ones at the back) All this does is make bad conditions WORSE for everybody except them. If they chose to use main-beam instead or as well as, they would soon get the adverse reaction they deserve from other motorists. The law is clear fog lights are for FOG and in poor visibility situations only – but NOT rain or because it looks cool. If everybody flashed these doughnuts they would soon switch them off! I do ~ let’s all do it!!

    26 Nov 2008, 17:20

  26. Darren

    The problem with fog is that it can be there one minute, and gone the next. When it’s foggy you sometimes go around a corner and suddenly hit a wall of fog, especially if driving close to a river or something, and then it suddenly disappears and then re-appears. It annoys me the amount of drivers you can’t see when it’s foggy just because they’ve used the stupid 100m rule for fog lights, then they’ve hit a patch of fog on a corner, some other cars come round the corner not seen them and there too busy concentrating on where the fog light switch is instead of the road. Is the 100m rule really valid on all roads, if I’m on the motorway doing 70mph (that’s 31m/sec) that gives me less than 4 seconds to see the car ahead (even at 40 that’s only giving me 6 seconds to see the car and react to it).

    Btw in case you can’t tell the difference between brake lights and fog lights, the brake lights are normally two big lights either side that occasionally light up, the fog light is the one (or sometimes two) big red lights (that are brighter than the brake light) and are constantly lit up. Besides if you are travelling at the correct stopping distance you shouldn’t need to worry about whether you can see the brake lights or not, and yes it is still your fault if you go in the back of someone and you can’t see their brake lights (same rule as if you go into someone who’s parked illegally – I know someone who hit a car parked on the second lane of a motorway and it was her fault!). And if you can’t tell the difference between brake and fog lights how did you pass your driving test???

    29 Nov 2008, 12:25

  27. Sports car hire

    The legislation states they are only to be used in conditions where visibility is serious impaired – generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet)

    04 Dec 2008, 01:16

  28. Dazmeister


    Some self righteous people on here! Most people are taligaters huh? So I take it you are one of the elite “advanced school” of drivers.
    Oh and yes, I do know the difference between brake lights and fog lights. I personally don’t think its tail gaters its the incorrect use of fog lights. The fact they are more irritating than anything (in clear/damp weather), and can in fact be quite dazzling at times if you’re sitting behind some numpty who has put them on at the slightest hint of rain (yes rain).

    Front fogs are sometimes used to compensate for the fact you got one (or more) headlight bulbs out. Or another trick is to put your one working headlight on full beam and your opposing working fog lamp on to “create” a beam of light irrespective of what annoyance it may cause.

    Rant over.

    15 Dec 2008, 12:58

  29. Limo Hire

    Front fogs are sometimes used to compensate for the fact you got one (or more) headlight bulbs out. But this happens

    25 Dec 2008, 02:37

  30. chuck

    I live in Slovakia. I moved here from Canada where a lot of drivers just drive with indicator and/or fog lights on as a matter of course. It doesn’t bother anyone. Fog lights by design are made to reflect light to the sides and down in front, where they reduce glare to oncoming traffic in all conditions excepting heavy rain, where any oncoming lights are a pain.

    I have never, ever, been bothered by anyone driving with his fog lights on coming towards me, ecxept in
    heavy rain, on glaring blacktop.

    Where I live in Slovakia, the roads are rural, narrow, and the white centre line has been obliterated by tractors for 10 months of the year. The side of the road is not marked. It’s hard to see where the road ends and the fields begin, and the corners are sharp and aren’t usually posted. Yet put your fog lights on in any thing less than fog to highlight the corners greets you with flashed lights! I know it doesn’t bother oncoming drivers, because others’ fog lights don’t bother me or anyone else in the car. so what is their F***G problem?

    Is this a European thing exclusively, to be happy to not see where they are going, or what?

    05 Jan 2009, 23:20

  31. ben

    He is right btw way the new mini does have foglights in the main light assembly, believe me my mate bside me is an MOT tester, they are just really rubbish like most things BMW

    As far as what lighting combination to use for the front, I experiment. If main beam means i can see further i will still use it (obviously not when other cars are coming) if not I won’t. I will have my rear fog on if I am the last in a group of cars, as a car comes up behind i turn it off.

    09 Jan 2009, 00:36

  32. g

    18 Jan 2009, 12:08

  33. Tim

    It’s rear fogs that are the problem.

    Front so called “fogs” or spots do nothing to aid the driver. As for lighting the side of the road so you can see a fox jump out, I’m afraid they only light up the immediate sides, not a distance in front so by the time you see the fox it’s long since dead. You shouldn’t be looking at the side of the road all the time anyway!

    No, rear fogs are the danger. They are a strong bright red designed to burn through a typical 100m visibility fog density. They are not designed for use in mists and fogs where visibility is a mile!. The problem is they are bright enough to distract at least and at worst at a distance they blend in with rear brake lights (many are in the same rear cluster as the brake lights).

    And as for those complete idiots who use them in the rain, they are the worst! In the rain they are lethal. The rain drops on the windscreen amplify and magnify the bright red light so all you can see is a red blur.

    Keeping your distance is always advised but if it blurs your vision or distracts you so you don’t notice other hazards on the road, it is a danger.

    There is a very good reason why the law is what it is. More than 100m vis with rear fogs on, slap them with a fine. Personally I think the fine is way too low.

    11 Dec 2009, 09:16


    I am a Police Officer who takes great delight in issuing 30 pound non endorseables for misuse of fog lights in my area. It is an offence if visibility is less than 100 metres no excuses. Yes i am draconian, but why have laws if they are not upheld. The fine is at present too low. It is either that or i report driver for the offence where the penalties are higher.

    28 Jan 2010, 09:34

  35. Mike

    I bet that almost everyone complaining about spotlights on here has travelled at 71mph or more, but they’re fine with that because they don’t regard it as important, despite speeding being a major cause of accidents.

    I would bet everything I own that those same people park facing the wrong way on the road sometimes despite that being illegal (239: do not park facing against the traffic flow), but you’d feel pretty hard done by if you got a fine for that wouldn’t you?

    You don’t flash everyone who fails to indicate and you don’t indicate 100% of the time. Am I correct?

    But you do choose to flash everyone with spotlights on. It doesn’t matter if they are actually; you do it as a matter of course.

    Anything that increases the visibility of my car without causing danger is getting turned on. I’m sorry if you have a problem with that, but it’s your problem and it isn’t based on spotlights causing danger.

    The fact is that spotlights on normal cars do not dazzle in good weather. When it’s wet I can appreciate that they could dazzle, so I turn them off, although I’ve never experienced ANY situation where they dazzle.

    What’s amusing about the link is that even THEY couldn’t find a car whose spotlights dazzle, as can be seen from the fact that they had to put the camera at the same height as the spotlights in order to get the photo on their homepage. At the height that the driver sits, they do not dazzle. You’d have to be in a formula 1 car to have the perspective shown in that photo.

    Rear foglights are dangerous and they do dazzle. Driving with one headlight broken is dangerous. Driving with brake lights broken is dangerous. Why not concentrate on the people who don’t fix these things rather than complaining about something as trivial as spotlights?

    stamper: I believe that the police do an important and extremely difficult job very well. But there is a section of society that are anti-police and the minority of police officers who abuse their power to persue personal vendettas are the cause. If you enjoy fining people rather than helping people, perhaps you are in the wrong job.

    15 Mar 2010, 20:46

  36. Mike

    “actually” should read “actually dazzling”

    15 Mar 2010, 20:48

  37. Jason

    Mike is very close to the mark on this one. I have never had an issue with any oncoming traffic having their front ‘fog lights’ on. Many have done so but none have caused any glare, dazzle or general discomfort. Rear fog lights on the other hand do dazzle and cause glare and should not be used unless visibility is reduced. Returning to the front fog light argument, it is common practice both on the continent and in rural parts of the UK to drive with these on as it does improve visibilty to the sides of the vehicles without causing glare to any possible on coming traffic.

    Thats my view and I will be very interested in any possible responses around it

    I myself do not use my front fog lights unless visibilty is reduced or I am on rural single track roads but still hold these views.

    07 Sep 2010, 10:00

  38. gf


    02 Oct 2010, 11:22

  39. frank

    I don’t see any problem with driving with front fog lights ,
    The beam on my car [a mercedes 190e] is a lot lower than dipped headlights,
    So what am I doing wrong,I can be seen ,and not blinding any motorist coming towards me,
    If someone flashed me I would then go on to dipped headlights and really upset them.
    Rear fog lights in the rain are a nuisance,
    I think everyone is getting mixed up over fog lights and spot lights,
    Or the new sort of day time driving light,which is really a spot light.
    I have been a HGV driver all my life ,so have seen every light under the sun
    My last wagon only had twelve front side lights,didnt want to stand out to much.

    17 Nov 2010, 19:21

  40. James

    I use my side lights lots in fog! If it is on a main road i do! I often put on my side lights and fog lights! Is there anything wrong with that

    18 Nov 2010, 20:17

  41. John

    It’s not so much the spots or fog lights that cause glare, but the prats who cant fit a new headlight bulb without fitting it upsidedown or checking to make sure it is seated correctly. The same applys to rear stop/tail bulbs when the bright brake part of the bulb is lit when the sidelights are on!! It does not take much to check so why do we see so many badly fitted and dangerous lights??

    20 Dec 2010, 10:10

  42. lol

    People who use front fog lights when it isn’t foggy are pricks who think they look cool – hope that copper gets you fined!
    In certain conditions they can be dazzling & it is selfish to do this to other road users.

    20 Dec 2010, 18:17

  43. Craig

    I really don’t get why people are dam idiots with what lights are what!

    admittedly i’m a 20 year old, who does a majority of the time use his bumber “Fog Lights” for no other reason than they look “Good”.

    I really think alot of the time people who say there are dazzling when someone has there fog lights on are just looking for a way to moan and groan about nothing!!

    On more than several occasions I have been dazzled with ordinary “Headlamps” on there “Low Beam”, Any car I have seen approaching me with fog lights on havent dazzled me!

    One factor I have notice about lower mounted Bumper light are YES they do improve visability in fog!!
    They lighten up the verge at the road side, the white line in the middle of the road as wheel!!

    Overall my opinion is Front bumper lights are Cool and CAN help in fog and yes Rear fog lights help with seeing someone in front of you in thick fog!

    I LOVE RANTIN!! ;)

    15 Mar 2011, 19:57

  44. terry

    After listening to most of your comments about fog lights, over half of you are hypocondriacs. you state that fog lights when it’s NOT foggy are blinding and glaring to other drivers, yet then you claim “fog lights don’t really help at all”
    well, if the “don’t really help at all” then how the hell can people be blinded by them?? and fog lights are aimed about 10 feet in front of the car, NOT into other drivers faces.
    Come to the U.S. and see how we drive with our fog lights on in all types of weather, which is NOT illegal. In fact, the rule here is “if it’s DOT (Department Of Transportation) approved, and under 55 watts, you can use fog lights in conjunction WITH your low beam head lights at ANY time.

    21 May 2011, 20:20

  45. J8keyPop

    Most of us agree – Front spots are LESS glaring than bad set up DIP headlights – In town spots with sidelights is easier for everyone !

    16 Nov 2011, 01:17

  46. Gaz

    People are different & have different tolerances to light ingest. The fact that it is illegal is a simple one. Don’t do it….. or risk being fined or at least flashed.
    Murder is illegal… should we say that is ok too?

    01 Jan 2013, 02:56

  47. martin Lamprecht

    The use of front fog lamps for the purpose of looking cool is negated by the fact that they are only called fog lamps when it’s foggy, the rest of the time they are called knob lights:D

    17 Nov 2013, 03:39

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