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A Ministerial lesson in how to use your fog lights

By 16 March 2012 58

With his Minister for Police hat on Simon Corbell is letting you all know how to use fog lights properly:

“There appears to be a misconception in the community about the use of fog lights and drivers may not be aware that it is illegal to use fog lights when driving in normal weather conditions,” Mr Corbell said.

“Fog lights were designed to help drivers see and be more visible when driving in fog or other hazardous weather conditions which can reduce visibility.

“Different to long distance driving lights, fog lights have a low, flat, wide beam that illuminates the road below fog or mist and this can be hazardous to drivers in other normal driving conditions by blocking or minimising their vision.

“Since March 2000 it became an offence to use rear fog lights in non-inclement weather but it did not become an offence to use front fog lights in non-hazardous weather until the road rules were amended in March 2010.”

Fog lights were designed to be mounted low on a vehicle’s front bumper and have a beam pattern that is low and diffused, unlike a headlight which has a focussed beam.

Rear fog lights were designed to allow a vehicle to be seen by drivers behind that vehicle.

“It is an offence to drive with driving lights on that may dazzle and distract other drivers, even if those driving lights were mounted below the bumper bar of the vehicle,” he said.

“ACT Policing has issued a small number of traffic infringement notices for fog light related offences in past years, however officers were also aware that many drivers do not realise they have their fog lights on. Cautionary measures will continue to be taken, however fines can be issued of up to $102 for the offence.

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58 Responses to A Ministerial lesson in how to use your fog lights
#31
Tooks7:59 am, 17 Mar 12

PrinceOfAles said :

Watson said :

I have never been blinded by fog lights during the day? They look wanky, but that’s the only thing I can say against them. Or am I missing something here?

I get far more worked up about half of the drivers not switching their lights on when there’s fog or rain.

I totally agree. .

Same here. I’ve never been blinded or distracted by them.

#32
jawm8:01 am, 17 Mar 12

..and for anyone in government who might be reading this… how about a law making it mandatory to have your headlights on whenever you are using your windscreen wipers? (when it’s raining obviously, not just when cleaning the windscreen!)… first came across this in New York state – seems to make a lot of sense to me…

#33
Felix the Cat12:33 pm, 17 Mar 12

Very Busy said :

A good approach to this problem would be to change the Australian Design Rules in relation to the front fog light switch. A push button type switch that turns the lights on only until the vehicle is turned off seems like the way to go. When the vehicle is then restarted, the fog light button would need to be pressed again for the fog lights to be turned on.
.

The foglights on Ford BA Falcons work this way. You turn the car on then the headlights and then you can turn the foglights on but when you stop the car and turn of the headlights you need to manually press the foglight switch to turn them on again.

#34
IrishPete2:14 pm, 17 Mar 12

Tooks said :

PrinceOfAles said :

Watson said :

I have never been blinded by fog lights during the day? They look wanky, but that’s the only thing I can say against them. Or am I missing something here?

I get far more worked up about half of the drivers not switching their lights on when there’s fog or rain.

I totally agree. .

Same here. I’ve never been blinded or distracted by them.

Indeed “during the day”. At night is another matter..

However, I have noticed that I am slightly less quick to notice someone’s brake lights come on if their rear fog lights are also on (less so if they also have a high, mid-mounted brake light like newer cars mostly seem to). That has safety implications.

IP

#35
Deref7:59 pm, 17 Mar 12

IrishPete said :

Tooks said :

PrinceOfAles said :

Watson said :

I have never been blinded by fog lights during the day? They look wanky, but that’s the only thing I can say against them. Or am I missing something here?

I get far more worked up about half of the drivers not switching their lights on when there’s fog or rain.

I totally agree. .

Same here. I’ve never been blinded or distracted by them.

Indeed “during the day”. At night is another matter..

I was talking about at night.

#36
m_ratt11:03 am, 18 Mar 12

Deref said :

They’re low and focussed down onto the road.

They’re not focussed, and that is exactly the problem. As per the original release “and have a beam pattern that is low and diffused, unlike a headlight which has a focussed beam.”

From an oncoming driver’s position, fog lights are brighter than headlights, because headlights are focussed/cut off to prevent glare in this manner. Fog lights are not.

Park your car facing a wall – turn on the head lights, notice they are focussed and dip to the left (away from oncoming traffic) – do the same with your fog lights, notice they’re not focussed or cut off at all…

#37
Deref12:54 pm, 18 Mar 12

m_ratt said :

Deref said :

They’re low and focussed down onto the road.

They’re not focussed, and that is exactly the problem. As per the original release “and have a beam pattern that is low and diffused, unlike a headlight which has a focussed beam.”

We could argue about the meaning of the word “focussed”, but let’s agree that they’re directed low onto the road.

m_ratt said :

From an oncoming driver’s position, fog lights are brighter than headlights, because headlights are focussed/cut off to prevent glare in this manner. Fog lights are not.

Park your car facing a wall – turn on the head lights, notice they are focussed and dip to the left (away from oncoming traffic) – do the same with your fog lights, notice they’re not focussed or cut off at all…

I can’t agree. I drive at night in the country a couple of times each week and I’d estimate that maybe 20% of the cars coming towards me are using fog lights. Not once have I seen one whose fog lights are brighter than dipped low beam and I’ve never been dazzled or annoyed by them. But, again, an equal proportion have lights that are badly mis-aligned and at least one of their lights dazzles me on low beam or they’re using high beam and don’t know or abide by the rule “dip your lights as soon as you see another vehicle’s head or tail lights”.

#38
AlpineViper3:10 pm, 19 Mar 12

The actual road rule is here. Yes, It’s a South Australian site, but this particular rule is Australia-wide.
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/sa/consol_reg/arr210/s217.html
This came into place sometime in 2007, from what I can tell. I can see no trace of the rule for front fog lights in the 1999 Australian Road Rules.

Frankly, I’m not sure I agree with the necessity. Any fog lights I have ever seen are pointed down at the road, and I have never been at risk of being “dazzled” by them. They are not “high-beam” as some people have incorrectly stated, they are the complete opposite: low beam. They light up the road close to the car and under the fog, and point nowhere near the direction of an oncoming driver.

I can’t help but think that this was legislation made by people who just thought it was a bit wankerish to have them on. Still, illegal is illegal I guess.

#39
OpenYourMind3:35 pm, 19 Mar 12

Fog lights upsetting people: First world problem!
Is it really that big a deal?

I remember being in a cab at night time in Cairo. The drivers there don’t use headlights, the only time the headlights at night are used is a quick flick to indicate to other drivers of an impending catastrophe.

#40
bikhet6:00 pm, 19 Mar 12

jawm said :

… first came across this in New York state – seems to make a lot of sense to me…

Georgia too – and all the time in Canada.

#41
Deckard7:56 pm, 19 Mar 12

I’ve never been ‘dazzled’ by a set of fog lights. I reckon a lot of drivers out there need their eyes checked.

The best excuse I’ve seen for not using them might have been on here many years ago or in the NRMA magazine or something. But it was that when night driving you should have your eyes focused 100m+ down the road where the effect of your headlights ends. Fog lights light up things about 10-20m from the front of your car taking your attention away from where it should be.

For eg. If something appears 15m from the front of your car while you’re doing 80 then it’s too late. You might have seen it 80m ago but your attention was taken away due to the lit up road right in front of you.

That’s only at night of course. In day time I reckon they make good daytime running lights.

#42
tactless8:16 pm, 19 Mar 12

AlpineViper said :

The actual road rule is here. Yes, It’s a South Australian site, but this particular rule is Australia-wide.
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/sa/consol_reg/arr210/s217.html
This came into place sometime in 2007, from what I can tell. I can see no trace of the rule for front fog lights in the 1999 Australian Road Rules.

The Actual Road Rule is in the Australian Road Rules. 217 and 219 apply. It is an offence provision under those rules. Quite clear and mentions Front and Rear Fog Lights.

The Road Transport (Offences) Regulation 2005 list the offence in Schedule 1 Short Descriptions, Penalties and Demerit POints – Item 289. $102 and 1 Demerit point

Just Saying…

#43
WillowJim8:50 pm, 19 Mar 12

shirty_bear said :

Given that RA has established that govco law enforcement is more about revenue-raising than safety, surely this is an obvious crackdown target?

Wow – the RiotACT really established that? Perhaps you’re mistaking law-breakers whingeing about being penalised with some sort of proof of a government conspiracy.

In any event, the Crimes reported a few weeks back that police had only fined three drivers in two years for using fog lights unnecessarily. Surely if money was the only objective, every cop could have fined three drivers an hour.

OpenYourMind said :

Fog lights upsetting people: First world problem! Is it really that big a deal?

No, but if you’re cycling at night, some cars’ fog lights are as blinding as high beams. I’ve often had to look away or pull over.

#44
Holden Caulfield11:26 pm, 19 Mar 12

SnapperJack said :

Always on fog lights (or DRLs – daytime running lights) were all the rage about ten years ago. Then someone pointed out they were illegal so new cars stopped being made with them. The Hyundai Getz has circles moulded for them in its front bumper but the lights themselves are missing.

lolz

Innovation said :

It’s interesting to see all of the people sledging Subaru drivers here. FWIW the fog light switch (and warning light) on the Forester is beside the right knee and out of the line of sight behind the steering wheel. It’s so easy to accidentally turn on and requires constant checking that I’m thinking about disconnecting these lights.

I used to have a 2001 model Outback and never had this problem. Yes, the switch was slightly obscured, but it also had a light in the switch to indicate the lights were on which made it a bit more obvious.

Girt_Hindrance said :

Hmm, recently bought a subaru, always drive with the headlights on- front fog lights included. I don’t use the rear unless its foggy, people that do, suck. I’ve adjusted and confirmed that they point down significantly, below eyesight. As the Minister says, “low and diffused”. I’m quite sure mine are low enough. Why? I read a long time ago about Daytime Running Lights, how they’re mandatory in some Countries, that after implementation, accidents were reduced by up to 30%. I can’t quote any research, but I have been driving for 15 years and I’ve never been had an accident, nor caused one. I’d have to recommend it to anyone as an extra safeguard to making your vehicle visible. I’ve also driven many country and interstate roads where they’ve signposted the ‘lights on’ recommendation- no weather differentiations.

You’re almost there, but not really getting it, are you.

I suppose you think it’s better to have foglights on at night for the “extra vision” they provide too?

IrishPete said :

Every car I’ve ever driven that has fog lights also has warning lights somewhere to tell you they are on – a driver ignoring warning lights probably shouldn’t be driving.

That’s funny, I’ve had three cars with foglights that only have a warning light for the rear foglights, not the front.

IrishPete said :

However, I have noticed that I am slightly less quick to notice someone’s brake lights come on if their rear fog lights are also on (less so if they also have a high, mid-mounted brake light like newer cars mostly seem to). That has safety implications.

That’s a worry, seeing as the majority of cars with a rear foglight only have one foglight (ie. to one side, generally the driver’s side). Moreover high-mount rear brake lights have been mandatory for 20 years or more. Is a VP Commodore a “newer car”?

#45
OpenYourMind6:20 am, 20 Mar 12

I might add that I find the strips of LED parking lights that Audis, more expensive Commodores now use are more annoying and seemingly as bright as the fog lights. Not to mention they don’t look posh, just tacky.

#46
Gungahlin Al7:40 am, 20 Mar 12

Yeah I’m with Corbell on this. Fog lights do send light upwards, not down low as people assume and yes they are quite bright, to the point of dazzling oncoming drivers.

By all means put your ordinary headlights on during the day (I do) – at least they are diverted (on low beam) away from oncoming traffic. And most modern cars won’t let you accidentally leave them on to flatten your battery. But fog lights are not the answer for daytime running. Nor are they OK to run in tandem with low beam at night time. That is guaranteed to piss people off.

I like the idea about designing them to switch off with the ignition and require a manual switch back on. That could get really old quick and stop the behaviour. Perhaps Corbell could represent that to other transport ministers and seek a change to the ADRs.

Meanwhile everyone who thinks it’s cool or OK, please realise that everyone else on the road thinks you’re an A-grade jerk, and ask yourself: “would I walk around the street wearing a hat with a dildo strapped to it?”

#47
milkman8:05 am, 20 Mar 12

Foglights in good weather (day or night) are annoying to other drivers. Turn them off.

#48
p18:40 am, 20 Mar 12

OpenYourMind said :

I might add that I find the strips of LED parking lights that Audis, more expensive Commodores now use are more annoying and seemingly as bright as the fog lights. Not to mention they don’t look posh, just tacky.

Those are called fairy lights.

#49
AlpineViper10:34 am, 20 Mar 12

tactless said :

AlpineViper said :

The actual road rule is here. Yes, It’s a South Australian site, but this particular rule is Australia-wide.
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/sa/consol_reg/arr210/s217.html
This came into place sometime in 2007, from what I can tell. I can see no trace of the rule for front fog lights in the 1999 Australian Road Rules.

The Actual Road Rule is in the Australian Road Rules. 217 and 219 apply. It is an offence provision under those rules. Quite clear and mentions Front and Rear Fog Lights.

The Road Transport (Offences) Regulation 2005 list the offence in Schedule 1 Short Descriptions, Penalties and Demerit POints – Item 289. $102 and 1 Demerit point

Just Saying…

Bad quote tags confuse me…

Yes, I realise 217 applies, that’s what I just linked to. I linked it because there was a whole lot of claiming about what the road rule was, without anyone actually bothering to look it up. In fact I thought the only rule was “no lights that can dazzle” (219) which was along the line of the minister’s comments, until I found the actual rule and corrected myself.

I then hazarded a guess on the date of it’s introduction based on discussion of the law I found around the interwebz. I also found a 1999 version of the road rules, which only says that rear fog lights may only be used in adverse conditions. Front fog lights do get a mention (document searched lovingly with Ctrl-F), but only to say that you can turn your headlights off in the day during adverse conditions, providing you have front fog lights. At no point does it say front fog lights cannot be used in clear conditions, or at the same time as headlights.

The rest of the post was my opinion (Fog lights don’t dazzle, thus 219 does not apply). Feel free to debate that at will.

Can you provide links to the actual documents back up your statements please? I realise we aren’t writing a thesis here, but some actual references are kinda handy when discussing semantics of the law.
Nevermind, I’ll put the current rules here for you.
http://www.ntc.gov.au/filemedia/Reports/ARRFeb12.pdf

TL;DR Minister’s quote adds to confusion because he talks about fog lights, then references a different (but similar) law. Also the actual rules:
http://www.ntc.gov.au/filemedia/Reports/ARRFeb12.pdf

#50
puppyfat676:26 pm, 24 Jun 12

I always thought that the users of these type of lights had bad vision and required them to be able to see like the rest of us, perhaps the Suburu owners are especially badly sighted.
Its also a great indicator of police presence on our roads that something illegal is so widespread. Perhaps if the police decided to actually target this then it might even stop?

#51
screaming banshee9:38 pm, 24 Jun 12

Aarrgghh! zombie thread

#52
gazket12:04 am, 25 Jun 12

many people in Canberra think the rear fog light should be turned on just because it’s cold.

#53
gooterz12:25 am, 25 Jun 12

Its amazing the number of people driving:
* No lights on, after dark!
* One light working and speeding up behind you in the dark.
* Has one light pointed upward and the other normal.
* Cars that have tiny lights without using the reflectors so the light is more dense!
* Illegal blue lights

I’m also supprised that a number of roadwork warning lights (the ones that used to say the dam levels) aren’t dimmed at night time to a safe level!

#54
Mav6:53 am, 25 Jun 12

I find them annoying at night but what I find really annoying are the illegal H.I.D. headlight conversions that are absolutely blinding. I would love to see a crack down on the cars fitted with these and defect the cars.

#55
Basilbrush8:38 am, 25 Jun 12

milkman said :

Foglights in good weather (day or night) are annoying to other drivers. Turn them off.

Totally agree!!!

#56
Deref9:17 am, 25 Jun 12

dtc said :

Bluey said :

One of my pet hates is people driving around in regular weather with their rear fog light on. Its bright, its annoying and very distracting and usually aside from overtaking them theres nothing you can do about it. Its not that hard people. Theres a little light on your dash that looks like a semi circle with some squiggly lines. If its on and its not foggy/extrememly rainy. TURN YOUR DAMN LIGHT OFF.

One of my pet hates is people who get worked up about fog lights, given that in the scheme of driving issues and dangers they are probably somewhere around no. 235 (if that)

Hear, hear.

I’ve never been dazzled by fog lights, but so many tools either have their high beams on or have such badly-adjusted low beams that they act light high beams. I never hear of them being busted.

And another thing: dip your high beam immediately you can see the other car’s head or tail lights, tool. And that includes on divided roads.

#57
dungfungus9:42 am, 25 Jun 12

OpenYourMind said :

Fog lights upsetting people: First world problem!
Is it really that big a deal?

I remember being in a cab at night time in Cairo. The drivers there don’t use headlights, the only time the headlights at night are used is a quick flick to indicate to other drivers of an impending catastrophe.

Same in most South American countries.

#58
EvanJames10:17 am, 25 Jun 12

Mav said :

I find them annoying at night but what I find really annoying are the illegal H.I.D. headlight conversions that are absolutely blinding. I would love to see a crack down on the cars fitted with these and defect the cars.

Yep, and the maladjusted lights. And the tossers with one headlight out, so they put the remaining one on high beam. It’s quite marked how over the border, despite their yearly rego testing regime that the ACT got rid off, I think there’s more maladjusted headlights than in the ACT.

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