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Florida Driver Handbook: Reduced Visibility

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Florida Driver Handbook: Reduced Visibility

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Table of Contents

5. Driving Safety

You must turn on your low beam (dim) headlights when driving between sunset and sunrise, including the twilight hours between sunset and sunrise or between full night and sunrise. You must also use these lights during any rain, smoke or fog. Parking lights do not meet requirements of this law.

5.31.1 - Fog or Smoke

Wildfires, smoke, fog and heavy rain can lower visibility on the roads. It is important for drivers to drive as safely as possible in these conditions.

Safety tips on driving in low visibility:

  • Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will only be reflected back off the fog and actually impair visibility even more. Your lights help other drivers see your vehicle, so be sure they all work. Keep your windshield and headlights clean, to reduce the glare and increase visibility.
  • Slow down - and watch your speedometer - before you enter a patch of fog. Be sure that you can stop within the distance that you can see. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding. Speed is a major factor in fog-related crashes.
  • Watch out for slow-moving and parked vehicles. Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open your window a little, to hear better.
  • Reduce the distractions in your vehicle. Turn off the radio and cell phone. Your full attention is required.
  • Use wipers and defrosters liberally for maximum visibility. Sometimes it is difficult to determine if poor visibility is due to fog or moisture on the windshield.
  • Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.
  • Be patient. Avoid passing and/or changing lanes.
  • Signal turns well in advance and brake early as you approach a stop.
  • Do not stop on a freeway or heavily traveled road. You could become the first link in a chain-reaction collision. If you must pull off the road, signal (people tend to follow tail lights when driving in fog), then carefully pull off as far as possible. After pulling off the road, turn on your hazard flashers(hazard lights should only be used when you pull over to show that you are parked on the side of the road). Move away from the vehicle.
  • Check traffic conditions before traveling, by dialing 511 or visiting

5.31.2 - Rain

The first few drops of rain mean danger. Roads are most slippery just after the rain begins because oil dropped from cars has not been washed away. Slow down and plan for at least two times the normal stopping distance.

In a heavy rain, your tires can ride on a thin film of water, like skis. This is called hydroplaning. When your tires are not touching the road, you can easily lose control and skid. Keep your tires on the road by slowing down when it rains, and by having tires with the right air pressure and good tread.

Brakes often become wet after driving through deep water or driving in heavy rain. They may pull to one side or the other, or they may not hold at all. If this happens, slow down and gently push on the brake pedal until your brakes are working again.

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