Fog, mist and murky conditions: How to handle these driving hazards effectively


24 October 2022

Press Release

Fog, mist and murky conditions: How to handle these driving hazards effectively

Drivers are being given advice for driving in fog this autumn and winter – when conditions could become so severe they may hardly be able to see beyond the bonnet of their vehicle.

Drivers are being given advice for driving in fog this autumn and winter – when conditions could become so severe they may hardly be able to see beyond the bonnet of their vehicle.

National Highways has produced online guidance on its website for handling different weather conditions when the weather gets colder in an effort to keep road users as safe as possible on its motorways and A-roads.

Arrange to regularly check your vehicle throughout the autumn and winter period before heading out, to ensure the fog lights and other vehicle lights are in good working order and are clean to ensure other road users have the best possible chance of seeing you in particularly treacherous weather.

Fog and mist can appear at different times during the year, but it is particularly common over the autumn and winter months, amid lower temperatures, slippery road surfaces and reduced visibility for drivers.

In fog or heavy mist, drivers should switch on their fog lights and not use lights on full beam as the fog will reflect the light back. If you really cannot see, you should consider finding a safe place to stop until it is safe to continue.

There are lots more travel tips, vehicle checks and useful motoring advice for negotiating severe weather on the National Highways website, in keeping with the Safer Roads Campaign, to help improve driver confidence when travelling as temperatures get colder, the nights draw in and the potential for fog, rain and high winds increase.

Paul Beecher, National Network Manager at National Highways, said: “Even light or moderate rain can have an impact on visibility and vehicle performance, so it’s important to adjust your driving behaviour and take extra care.

“It is therefore always important to plan ahead for your journey. This advice is especially important during the autumn and winter season when weather conditions are traditionally more adverse.

“We have a section of our website dedicated to travelling when it is raining, as part of our guide to travelling in severe weather. It’s also a good idea for people to check their vehicles, such as tyres, coolant and oil levels, before heading out to reduce the risk of breakdowns.”

On parts of the National Highways network we use fog detection systems on our motorways and A-roads, which will automatically set our roadside signs to warn you when visibility is reduced.

Fog can also be very localised - sometimes signs may indicate fog, but nothing is present at that location, so remain aware and alert for changing conditions while driving.

Driving in mist and fog

When you’re on the road

  • Use dipped headlights, wipers and demisters.  
  • Avoid using full beam, as the fog reflects the light back, reducing visibility even further. 
  • According to the Highway Code, you should use your headlights when visibility is below 100 metres (328 feet). 
  • Use fog lights only when visibility is seriously reduced and below 100 metres (328 feet). 
  • Beware of other drivers not using headlights. 
  • If you really can’t see, consider stopping until it’s safe to continue. 
  • Only drive as fast as conditions allow: 
  • Create a bigger gap between you and the vehicle in front of you 
  • Slow down so you can stop within the distance you can see clearly. 
  • Check your mirrors before you slow down, brake slowly 

Listen out for other vehicles

If visibility is very limited, wind down your windows at junctions and crossroads to allow you to listen out for approaching traffic. 

Keep your windscreen clear

Ensure the heater is set to windscreen de-misting and open all the vents.

The Highway Code

Follow the Highway Code's advice on foggy weather.

Ready for autumn and winter seasons 

Autumn and winter can bring more adverse and severe weather conditions which can affect motorists and these include fog, heavy rain, high winds and gales and ice and snow.

Along with more than 250 weather stations, that provide us with real time information about localised road conditions, National Highways works with independent meteorological experts DTN and Metdesk which run from October 1 to April 30 and complement the national Met Office weather forecast, providing a level of granularity and precision about changing road surface temperatures across our road network. This gives us the detailed knowledge determine where and when to salt roads so they remain open and safe for people to use.

All of the information we gather helps us to inform road users about current road conditions whatever the weather. We also share information through channels including our website, third party travel providers including sat nav companies and local radio stations.  

Abigail Oakes, Senior Account Manager at the Met Office, said: “We’re working closely with National Highways throughout the year to help people stay safe on the roads. 

“In addition to our national forecasts, National Highways have access to Met Office meteorologists working alongside their team to offer support throughout the autumn and winter. Together, we’re providing the best possible support for road users during periods of severe weather.” 

A spokesperson for the Met Office said, “Fog needs a few ingredients, including moisture in the air, light winds and the right temperature. Fog can reduce visibility markedly for road users so it’s important to check the advice in your region.”

For advice on travelling in fog, visit WeatherReady on the Met Office website.

National Highways has lots of advice on its website around travelling in severe weather conditions, including high winds and gales, fog, rain and snow and ice. Visit our travelling in severe weather web page.

Weather forecasts and information can be found on the Met Office website here.


Travel updates

Drivers are advised to follow messages on the overhead signs and listen to radio updates.

Further information is available on travelling in winter web page.

Further information can be found by visiting the travel updates page, and by following @highwaysnwest @highwaysneast @highwaysseast @highwaysswest @highwayseast @highwayswmids, @highwaysemids @highwaysyorks on Twitter or calling the National Highways Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 5000.

Notes to Editors

National Highways is the wholly government-owned company responsible for modernising, maintaining and operating England’s motorways and major A roads.

Real-time traffic information for England’s motorways and major A roads is available via the Traffic England website, local and national radio travel bulletins, electronic road signs and mobile apps. Local Twitter services are also available.

For further information please contact National Highways' press office (24hrs) on 0844 693 1448 and select the most appropriate option:

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