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Old 12-25-2019, 07:31 AM   #1
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Do fog lights have any actual utility?

The thread on Daytime Running Lights motivated me to ask something Iíve been wondering for decades - do fog lights have any actual utility? They only light up a small area in front of the vehicle. Shallow but wider. Anything they could possibly light up better would be run over within a small fraction of a second at highway speeds.

Might be useful at low speeds around town in really low visibility, like snow. Maybe. Most cars Iíve had in the last couple of decades have had them, and Iíve never used them.

And I just discovered that my MB van has rear Ďfog lightsí, which is a separate bulb in the driverís side tail light cluster thatĎs bright like a brake light, but is completely separate from both tail and brake lights. The bottom of the tall light unit has a separate compartment with a single bulb that goes on when the rotary headlight switch on the dash is pulled out (first position is front fogs, pulled out all the way is rear fog).

Turns out itís the law in Europe - single separate rear facing red light on the driverís side -, as I found out after researching it when I accidentally discovered it, but I didnít even know such a thing existed until I got this van.

Just something Iíve been wondering for years.

http://www.irv2.com/forums/f64/ameri...ts-472994.html

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Old 12-25-2019, 07:41 AM   #2
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My headlights are so bad that I find turning on the fog lights too helps, especially to see the lane stripes. I don't do much after dark driving (none if I can help it) or I would spend some money to improve the headlights.
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Old 12-25-2019, 07:44 AM   #3
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1. I have read that fog is much less dense for a narrow band just above ground level. The narrow slit of light can therefore light the road for a farther distance (if in this less dense region) without the glare.
2. Used just to bother all other drivers in clear conditions. In Europe for instance there is a hefty fine for using in non-fog conditions.
Of course the unwarrented use of them is still preferable to the unfettered LED's scarring your eyeballs from a mile away.
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Old 12-25-2019, 07:52 AM   #4
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Helps to light up the lines on the side of the road closer to the coach and helps with seeing curbs. The idea is to shine under the fog/rain thus reducung glare and to light up the area between the headlights and the front of the coach
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Old 12-25-2019, 08:06 AM   #5
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Yes, they definitely do! As someone said, they light up the road right in front and to the sides of the road, helping you to stay in your lane in heavy fog!
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Old 12-25-2019, 08:23 AM   #6
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Fog lights usage IMO is really dependent upon how the manufacturer installed them. My wifeís car 2014 Malibu) has fog lights which really donít improve much in front of the car. They are too small and not bright enough. My 2018 Explorer fogs are very useful lighting the front and the sides of the road.

At least I know when someone has their brights on coming at you when their headlights are bright...no fog lights on. Some car headlights today are normally very bright with fogs on.
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Old 12-25-2019, 08:33 AM   #7
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Might be useful at low speeds around town in really low visibility, like snow. Maybe. Most cars I’ve had in the last couple of decades have had them, and I’ve never used them.


This is exactly what they are designed for. They are aimed down low to get under the fog which tens to dissipate closer to the ground first. You are supposed to drive slow in fog conditions.
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Old 12-25-2019, 09:03 AM   #8
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I find they work good in FOG.
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Old 12-25-2019, 09:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cavie View Post
Might be useful at low speeds around town in really low visibility, like snow. Maybe. Most cars Iíve had in the last couple of decades have had them, and Iíve never used them.


This is exactly what they are designed for. They are aimed down low to get under the fog which tens to dissipate closer to the ground first. You are supposed to drive slow in fog conditions.

And this^^ is the absolute definitive answer!


Too many confuse/conflate "fog" lights with "driving lights" or even daytime running lights. If the switch in the car is labeled for "Fog", then that's what they are for and they are totally inadequate to use for any other purpose. If you rarely or never use them, that is a good sign that you're not driving in fog or snowy conditions.
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Old 12-25-2019, 10:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ljwt330 View Post
If you rarely or never use them, that is a good sign that you're not driving in fog or snowy conditions.
Not much fog driving, but we get around 100Ē of snow here near Rochester, and I routinely drive to NYC through Syracuse, where they average 120Ē per year. Snow driving on the highway is an (unfortunately) routine event for work. I just havenít seen any benefit in using them in snow on the highway. If itís snowing so heavily that I canít see the lines any more, extra lights donít do anything for me. And Iím already down to local road speeds in those conditions. Rarely drive in fog, though.

Iíll try using them more, since theyíre already there. Not in the van, though. That stays put for the winter.
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Old 12-25-2019, 11:10 AM   #11
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Amber/yellow driving lights set low with a Ďflat topí lens are very effective in penetrating fog for the driver & without dazzling oncoming drivers.
As an aside, unfortunately red is the least visible at night(used in naval vesselsí outside hatch lights) and fortunately also affects night vision very little(Aircraft dash lights). Yes, I know.....then why are running & brake lights red? Good question for someone with historical knowledge. Even though red seems to be a bad ideaóthat ship has already sailed.
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Old 12-25-2019, 02:01 PM   #12
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Amber/yellow driving lights set low with a ‘flat top’ lens are very effective in penetrating fog for the driver & without dazzling oncoming drivers.
As an aside, unfortunately red is the least visible at night(used in naval vessels’ outside hatch lights) and fortunately also affects night vision very little(Aircraft dash lights). Yes, I know.....then why are running & brake lights red? Good question for someone with historical knowledge. Even though red seems to be a bad idea—that ship has already sailed.
H

Speculation on this, but here is my understanding.

There is a difference between red light for illumination of a surface and red light being seen, as a source of light, from afar. If you are looking at the source of the light, say a tail light, red is easily seen. If you are using a red light to search the ground for a lost article, it does very little good as it"s waves are absorbed easily by most materials and it doesn't reflect back to the eye. Further, the eye is less sensitive to red wavelength which doesn't mean it can't see it well, but does mean that red will not impede the light waves from other parts of the spectrum as much.

Naval vessels and other marine craft, as well as some aircraft, use red for illuminating the instruments so as not to impede the night vision beyond the instruments. Red is not used to keep the craft "invisible" from outside eyes. Again, if it was, why have red navigation lights?
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Old 12-25-2019, 02:10 PM   #13
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They were priceless to me one night driving on a unlit highway during a snowstorm!
Hi-beams was the worst!
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Old 12-25-2019, 08:04 PM   #14
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Just my opinion.....

I donít use fog or driving lights in heavy snow or fog. When on in those conditions seems to impede the ability to see further down the road. The heavy snow or fog ďreflectsĒ back at you.

I find they are best used in low to no lit road conditions.....dark roads. They illuminate the road sides very well.
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