The question “is it illegal to drive with fog lights on?” is very timely for anyone in the winter season.
During winter, it’s common to experience reduced visibility as a result of adverse weather conditions such as fog in the morning.
This occurs when warm, moist air flows over colder lands, causing the moist air to cool and humidify.
It becomes difficult to see ahead of you when fogging occurs, especially early in the morning.
So to address this, manufacturers now add special types of lights known as fog lights.
These are brighter than standard headlights and capable of penetrating through the fog.
Yes, it is illegal to drive with fog lights on. Fog lights are brighter and more powerful than standard headlights. Using them under normal weather conditions can glare and dazzle other road users, which can be dangerous.
Is It Illegal To Drive With Fog Lights On?
Driving with your fog light on is not illegal per se. What makes it illegal depends on how and when it is used or turned on.
It all depends on the traffic laws and regulations guiding a country’s or state’s highways.
This is because there are different reasons why turning on your fog light could be considered illegal.
Also, offenders who are caught are mostly fined, so knowing your state traffic laws can save you from paying some unnecessary fines.
Tip: It is illegal to drive without headlights in foggy weather conditions.
Apart from distracting and confusing other road users, here are some other reasons why you might be stopped and fined for using your fog light:
Reason #1: Fog Lights Placed High On The Bumper
Fog lights are usually placed or mounted at the bottom or below the bumper of your car.
They’re usually at the center or below your headlights, and about 10 to 24 inches away from the road surface.
This is done to make it easy for the fog light beam not to interfere with the low beam coming from the headlights. At the same time, it’s trying not to hit the faces of oncoming drivers.
So having your headlights high on the bumper or higher than your headlights is a fineable offense.
It does not only interfere with your car’s headlights but can also distract and confuse other road users, leading to accidents.
Tip: Car manufacturers always place the fog lights below the headlights, hence most people who are victims are those who tampered with their car bumpers.
Reason #2: Having A Different Colored Fog Light
The approved colors for fog lights are either white or yellow for the front and red for the rear.
Most older vehicles are fitted with halogen bulbs, which usually emit yellow lights.
But in recent times, new model bulbs are now fitted with LED and xenon light bulbs, which emit white light. These are the only two types of colors your fog light can come in.
As for the rear lights, they are usually red, just like your brake lights. This is to help make yourself more visible to traffic behind you when driving in foggy conditions.
Most manufacturers make use of clear bulbs under a red lens or a red bulb under a clear lens.
While some others make use of both a red bulb and a red lens to make their rear fog lights.
Note: Having a different-colored fog light, both front and rear, against the standard colors can land you in trouble with law enforcement.
Reason #3: When You Have Distracting Fog Lights
In recent times, we’ve seen people perform some modifications on their vehicles to make them unique.
Some change the exhaust system of their car to modify its sounds, while others might make some improvements to the body to change its look.
But tampering with your fog lights to a point where it becomes distracting or might confuse other road users is a punishable offense.
Fog lights are vital parts of your car and are not there for decoration. Some examples of distracting fog lights could be ones that change colors or blink on and off at intervals.
Such an arrangement can be dangerous and confusing to incoming traffic.
Reason #4: Having Your Fog Light On Alone
Having your fog lights on when driving in foggy weather conditions without your headlights on is also a crime.
The headlights are an important part of your car, as they not only make the road visible for you when driving at night, but they also help others see you.
Although they may not be as sharp and penetrating as fog lights, they do help illuminate the car’s surroundings.
This gives other drivers a clue as to the type of vehicle in front.
Fog lights, on the other hand, only illuminate the part of the road that is directly in front of the car.
So driving with just fog lights alone will make it difficult for you to see what’s far ahead. It’ll also be for other road users to know what’s exactly in front of them.
Knowing what’s allowed and not allowed in your state or country can keep you safe from committing traffic offenses involving fog lights unknowingly.
This is because different countries’ laws may vary slightly.
Tip: Always read your current location's traffic laws to avoid unknowingly breaking them.
When And How Should I Use My Fog Lights?
Is having fog lights on illegal? If so, when and how can I use my fog lights without breaking the law?
First of all, fog lights are designed to be used when there are bad weather conditions that affect visibility.
These include situations such as heavy rainfall, snowfall, or foggy weather.
Any situation that causes visibility to drop below 100 meters (328 feet) requires you to make use of your headlights alongside your fog lights for illumination.
This is stated in the Highway Code (Rule 226) of the United Kingdom. And when visibility improves, you must switch them off.
Not using your fog light can be dangerous for both you and other road users.
So always remember to switch on both your front and rear fog lights when faced with adverse weather conditions.
Tip: Once you notice visibility has returned and you can see ahead, turn off your fog lights.
How To Use Fog Lights
Most fog lights have a separate switch to turn them on from the main light controls.
Depending on the make of the car, the fog light can either be switched on by pressing a button or by turning a collar on the light stack.
For cars with buttons, they usually come in a pair, one for the front fog lights and the other for the rear.
Then for cars with the switch located in the light stack, you can switch the collar back and forth to switch from rear to front fog lights.
What should you take note of?
After switching it on, most cars will have an indicator on the dashboard that will light up to show the fog lights are on and also go off when they are off.
Also, you might happen to have a stop in the course of your journey and then you need to switch off your car.
Likely, the fog lights won’t come on when you switch on your car ignition.
So always check your fog light indicator to be sure the lights are either on or off depending on the weather conditions.
Also, is it illegal to drive with your fog lights on or off in foggy weather conditions?
Well, it is not an offense if you choose not to drive with fog lights on, but it is advisable to turn them on when visibility is low.
Tip: Always make it a point of duty to check if your fog light is on or off whenever you are starting your car's ignition.
Safety Tips For Driving In Fog
Fog mostly occurs early in the morning and we need to get to work or drop the children off at school.
We have no other choice but to brave the storm and drive through the fog.
Before concluding, let’s look at some safety tips you can apply when driving through foggy weather conditions.
Tip #1: Always Keep Your Headlights On
The main characteristic of foggy weather is poor visibility.
So, alongside your fog light, always remember to keep your headlights on no matter the time of day.
Headlights will allow you to see ahead better and ensure drivers coming ahead or behind can see and notice you.
Note: It is an offense to drive without turning on your headlights when visibility is low, and you can be fined.
Tip #2: Maintain A Safe Speed
No matter how clear the road ahead seems, always maintain a safe and steady speed.
That would give you enough time to react if something suddenly appeared in front of you.
Always keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front if there is any, and always honk before making any sudden movements.
Tip #3: Eliminate Distractions
Driving in foggy weather conditions requires your full attention to be on the road, as you can’t see what’s ahead.
Eliminate any form of distraction in your vehicle, such as turning off the radio, staying off your phone, and telling your passengers to be quiet.
You are not only using your eyes but also your ears to listen for incoming traffic that may not yet be visible when driving.
Is it illegal to drive with fog lights on? Well, you now know the answer. It is not only illegal but also dangerous to you and other road users.
If caught, you can be fined and punished according to the laws of the land.
Driving with fog lights on when the weather is clear and visibility is okay can confuse and dazzle other road users, and in worst-case scenarios, lead to accidents.