WASHINGTON, D.C. – Fog and smoke play a factor in nearly one-in-five serious multi-vehicle crashes, according to a recent report by the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The report, entitled “Hidden Highways: Fog and Traffic Crashes on America’s Roads,” offers recommendations to promote safe highway operations in foggy or smoky conditions.
Most notably, the report suggests driver education courses and season public-service announcements could help increase public awareness of the deadly risks posed by fog and smoke, resulting in safer driving habits.
“There may be opportunities for reducing fog- and smoke-related crashes through vehicle design and technology, as well,” the report says.
For example, drivers tend to perceived vehicles with higher-positioned rear lights and rear lights that were closer together as being farther away than they actually were.
“Rear lights that are positioned closer to the ground, and with greater separation, may therefore help trailing motorists better estimate and maintain a safer following distance.”
The report, authored by Bruce Hamilton, Brian Tefft, Lindsay Arnold, and Jurek Grabowski, presents 23 years of national data and 19 years of police-reported crash data on fatal crashes involving fog and smoke.
Included in the investigation was 22,091 fog-related fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses between 1990 and 2012. Among their findings:
* The effect of fog and smoke is amplified when combined with other risk factors, such as inexperienced drivers, winter months, and undivided rural highways.
* Young novice drivers were the slowest to react to hazards, and reduced their speed the least in response to foggy conditions.
* Drivers fall into one of two camps when they enter fog conditions: “laggers” and “non-laggers” each of which brings its own set or risks.
The report can be viewed here.
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