Fog lights

What are Fog Lights and When Should You Use Them?

by Zutobi · Updated Nov 09, 2021

Driving in unsafe weather conditions can make driving extremely challenging. Luckily, car makers have implemented features, such as fog lights, to help drivers navigate situations such as these. Despite their importance, many drivers confuse fog lamps for high beams or other similarly coloured lights.

Car enthusiasts will tell you that fog lights are a must-have, especially in Australia where fog, heavy rainstorms, smoke, or dust can severely limit visibility. However, a tool is only as good as how it’s utilised. Add that incorrect fog light use carries hefty fines (from $100 in ACT to $238 in SA), and you’ll understand the importance of knowing what fog lights are and when they should be used.

What are Fog Lights?

Fog lights are featured on the front and/or rear of vehicles and are used to increase driver visibility in fog or other hazardous weather conditions causing reduced visibility. They are generally positioned under the main headlights and are shaped like a bar. The location in which fog lights are located on the vehicle allows them to emit light that pierces the fog and creates a clear field of vision for the driver. As its name suggests, this is a serious lifeline in foggy conditions, where visibility is extremely low and normal headlights can’t pierce through very well.

Fog lights come in both yellow and white, depending on the specific car’s manufacturer.

This is the dashboard icon for front fog lights

Difference Between Fog Lights and Normal Headlights

Fog lights and main beam lights are completely separate and each features its own assembly. You’ll find headlights on every single vehicle on the road, while front fog lights are only offered as an upgrade in many car models. When a car is turned on, the main beam headlights are generally the first to turn on. Fog lights need to be manually activated before they begin working.

Using Fog Lights

It is important for drivers to understand the type of situations in which they can use fog lamps, and when they should not be used.

In Australia, fog lights should only be used in adverse weather conditions causing reduced visibility, such as fog or heavy rain. They must be turned off when visibility improves, and not be used in clear conditions. The reason being that they are very bright and will blind other drivers if left on.

How to Use Fog Lights

Front Fog Lights

Your front fog lights are usually activated via a separate switch from the main light control. Some cars also allow drivers to utilise fog lights from a button in their infotainment cluster. There are a multitude of ways to turn on your fog lights, so it’s best to consult your owner’s manual for more detailed information.

Rear Fog Lights

Rear fog lights are bright lights that are generally the same brightness as your brake lights. Rear fog lights are used so vehicles behind you are able to see your vehicle even in poor visibility situations.

When to Use Fog Lights

You can use fog lights in a variety of low visibility settings, this includes fog, heavy rain, and storms. Using high beam lights in these situations can make visibility worse, as their positioning makes light reflect back towards the driver. For that reason, never use high beams when driving in heavy rain or fog.

The low placement of fog lights allow them to emit rays that cover surface area below the fog, allowing you to clearly see what obstacles or other vehicles exist in front of you.

Can You Use Fog Lights When There’s No Fog?

Technically speaking, you can use your fog lights whenever you’re in an area of low driving visibility or poor weather. However, keep in mind that fog lights are not designed for driving at high speeds and must be turned off as soon as visibility improves.

If you use fog lights in conditions where they should not be used, you may be subject to fines. Every state and territory in Australia forbids the use of fog lights when conditions improve and you can see clearly again.

Are They Good to Have?

The answer is yes! If you have the option and can afford the upgrade, fog lights are an essential feature that will allow you to get a better view of the road. As we live in a country where weather can be unpredictable, purchasing a vehicle with front fog lights will allow you to drive your vehicle at any time without fear of reduced visibility.

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