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How fog and smoke affects road safety

Thick fog and smoke can create many problems for drivers in California. According to a study on fog and smoke-related crashes, traffic accidents that occur in these types of conditions result in more serious injuries than accidents that occur when road visibility is clear. Fog and smoke-related accidents are also more likely to involve multiple vehicles.

One fog-related crash that took place in Florida in 2012 caused the deaths of 11 people. The 19-car pileup occurred just one hour after the Florida Highway Patrol had reopened a stretch of interstate that was shut down because of fog. Before the road was reopened, a trooper had insisted that the foggy conditions were likely to return suddenly and without warning.

Road conditions are dangerous during thick fog and smoke because drivers have limited visibility. One study found that drivers perceive a vehicle traveling in front of them amid thick fog to be 60 percent farther away than it actually is. Many drivers follow the vehicle in front of them too closely during fog so that they can maintain the visual reference point. Studies have also shown that most drivers travel at unsafe speeds during fog and only slow down if they are having trouble staying in their lane. Because high beams make visibility worse during fog, nighttime fog is especially dangerous.

When road conditions are foggy or smoky, a multi-vehicle crash may be a very confusing event for injured victims. A person who has been injured in a fog or smoke-related crash may want to work with an attorney to identify the liable parties and determine how to pursue accident compensation.

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