It would probably be easier for researchers to change tracks and start telling us what doesn't cause cancer or obesity or car accidents. Latest on the list of automotive smash-up causes, according to a study by UK insurer Swiftcover, are drivers leaving their fog lights on in good visibility. The numbers are brazen, with Swiftcover attributing "as many as 300,000" accidents and two million near misses in the last 12 months "caused by drivers leaving fog lights on in the same period."

The UK highway code prohibits driving with one's fog lights on in conditions with visibility greater than 100 meters. Swiftcover's study says the lights dazzle other drivers, especially in London where 50 percent of incidents were registered, and that this applies to both front and rear fog lights.

Follow the jump for a press release on the study and a link to the Highway Code if you need a refresher.
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Reckless fog light drivers caused 300,000 accidents in 2011

- Two million near-misses caused by drivers leaving fog lights on in the same period

- Three million drivers admit to leaving fog lights on despite driving in good visibility, despite it being an official driving offence .

- One in five young drivers who had left fog lights on did so "because it looks good"

(Friday, 27 January 2012) -- Motorists who use their front and rear fog lights indiscriminately when visibility is not impaired have caused as many as 300,000 accidents in the last 12 months, with young drivers leaving fog lights on "because it looks good", research by car insurance provider swiftcover.com has found.

The research went on to find that one in five drivers (21 per cent) who had left their fog lights on did so because their standard lights were not bright enough, but other excuses included improving visibility on poorly-lit lanes and deterring other motorists from driving too close.

Furthermore, 14 per cent claimed to turn their fog lights on simply "because it looks good". Younger drivers aged under 34 were particularly likely to have deliberately misused fog lights for this reason – 22 per cent of 18-34 year olds who had left their fog lights on cited this reason, compared to just 3 per cent of those aged 35-54.

It is an offence to use fog lights unless visibility is reduced to 100m or less, and doing so can attract a £30 fixed penalty notice because of the danger it poses to other drivers who may be dazzled or distracted. However, with front fog lights now commonplace on UK roads due to manufacturers incorporating them on an increasing number of vehicles as standard, nearly one in ten motorists (8 per cent) admitted to using high intensity fog lights outside of these circumstances.

"Young drivers trying to look 'cool' by using their fog lights at all times are recklessly and thoughtlessly endangering other motorists", commented Robin Reames, chief claims officer at swiftcover.com. "Fog lights are designed for a very specific purpose – helping drivers to see and be seen when visibility is severely reduced. Misusing these lights has the effect of dazzling and distracting other motorists and causes a staggering number of crashes, as evidenced by our research. If you can see further than 100m (roughly the length of a football pitch) then your fog lights should remain off, and if they are not then you are breaking the law and could face a £30 fixed penalty notice."

London drivers were the most likely to use their fog lights during normal visibility: swiftcover.com recorded more crashes due to fog lights in London than in any other region, with half (50 per cent) reporting having been dazzled by other motorists using these lights outside of fog.
Reames continued: "It's about common sense and courtesy – you wouldn't want to be dazzled by other drivers' lights, so be responsible and turn yours off when they're not necessary."

The Highway Code states that drivers must not:

Use any lights in a way which would dazzle or cause discomfort to other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders

Use front or rear fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced. You must switch them off when visibility improves to avoid dazzling other road users

A full copy of the Highway Code is available at: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_070302


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  • 206 Comments
      over9000
      • 2 Years Ago
      how about those stupid people who put 55w HID lights on reflector housings in Civics, trucks, and SUVs... they're more life threatening when they go to your direction.
      TerrenceStuart
      • 2 Years Ago
      In the U.S., each state has it's own restrictions on the use of fog lights, In MN, where i live, you CAN use your factory fog lights or a set of "street legal" SAE/DOT approved lights along with your headlights at ANY TIME, as long as they are aimed properly - 25 feet from wall - measure from center of light to the ground - then aim the lights so the "hot spot" of the beam is 4 inches below the height of the fog lights. Example- if your fog lights are mounted 20 inches above the road, when Ignited, the beam is at the 16 inch mark when parked 25 feet from a wall, while sitting on a flat surface. fog lights shouldn't "dazzle" oncoming drivers, as true fog lights have a narrow, wide beam, with a cut off at the top, which keeps the light down low, close to the front of the vehicle. the real automotive lighting problem isn't "fog lights" it's the idiots who think it's "cool" to install those highly illegal 8-12,000K blue HID headlights in a housing thats made for regular halogen bulbs, causing everyone to be blinded that's approaching them.
      ANDYUPER
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well having driven in England, I know it doesn't matter: fog lights or not, they all drive on the wrong side of the road! Everyone of them! Lucky I didn't have a wreck! (Just kidding?)
      Andre Neves
      • 2 Years Ago
      300,000? Oh c'mon. What about these tall luxury SUVs with large HID headlights? Nobody complains about them being too bright. Oh that's right, because most of the D-bags that pass those fog light laws drive them.
        aatbloke1967
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        The article actually refers to rear fog usage in the UK, which is restricted under the Road Traffic Act. There are no such restrictions with using diffuser front fogs.
          aatbloke1967
          • 2 Years Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          "Swiftcover's study says the lights dazzle other drivers, especially in London where 50 percent of incidents were registered, and that this applies to both FRONT and REAR fog lights." Spend any time in the UK and you'll know the issue is always rear fogs, because their use is restricted by the RTA. The article has been skewed, and indeed, an American take on it only shows pictures of a front fog light, which aren't the true offenders.
          Andre Neves
          • 2 Years Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          "Swiftcover's study says the lights dazzle other drivers, especially in London where 50 percent of incidents were registered, and that this applies to both FRONT and REAR fog lights."
      EB110Americana
      • 2 Years Ago
      300,000 accidents a year from fog lights? Is that all? How many due to errant, low-flying pelicans? 500,000? 600,000?
      TrippulG3
      • 2 Years Ago
      In related news, pretty ladies on the sidewalk are the cause of 500,000 accidents per year.
      Wan Nes
      • 2 Years Ago
      Has anyone ever been blinded by front fog lights then ??? The rear ones are a PITA though, as they can give you the impression someone's braking.
      aatbloke1967
      • 2 Years Ago
      For all the Americans - and idiots - who are confused ... this article, despite mentioning front fog lights, pertains to REAR fog lights. These are mandatory in Europe and shine at the same intensity as brake lights. They can be VERY dazzling when used in wet conditions. Their use is retsricted under the Road Traffic Act, but often ignored. Front fog lights diffuser lights and are not mandatory. They do not dazzle. When fitted, the UK's Highway Code offers some form of governance as to their use, but those guidelines are NOT legislation. If you're familiar with life in the UK, you will know that rear fog lights have been known to cause many accidents when not used under the conditions for which they were designed.
        GTS Guy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @aatbloke1967
        i dont see the problem, through my eyes, they seem no brighter than brake lights. Its annoying but not distracting or "dazzling". Excuses, excuses i say. Rear fogs become the fall guy. Here in the US, ive been stuck behind many jags, Mercs, with the single or dual rear fogs on. As we say in America-- COME ON MAN!!!
      rebel3forever
      • 2 Years Ago
      fog lights were made only to be used during inclimate weather such as fog heavy rain or off road conditions not to be used to be on at all times and yes most people who have fog lights do not install them properly they just put them on the vehicle an never read the instructions or adjust the lights to proper levels there fore causing accidents by blinding oncoming traffic or riding behind someone blinding them in the rear view mirror some idiots should not be allowed to drive period.
      Stefan
      • 2 Years Ago
      See this all the time in Canada, but with DRLs. Somehow people do not realize they have only their daytime running lights at on (and, as such, no tail lights or even reasonably lit headlights whatsoever).
      Zillon
      • 2 Years Ago
      People driving with fog lights on never really bother me, unless said people are the type that make sure to pull all the way up on curb stops and whack their bumper so hard, it misaligns the fog lamps. A more pertinent issue: I have noticed an increasing trend of clueless people driving with their high beams on at all times of the day. While merely irritating in broad daylight, they ARE blinding after the sun goes down. People, the blue high beam symbol is lit up for a reason, and it's not to signify that your headlights are on. TURN YOUR HIGH BEAMS OFF!
      • 2 Years Ago
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