This is why we need REAR fog lamps

fastgun

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Has it ever been established through research that rear fog lights provide a safety benefit beyond other means such as using the hazard warning lights? As this forum is so often reminded there is a major difference in subjective opinion and objective fact. One study from the University of Michigan’s researcher Michael Flannagan states, “In terms of vehicle lighting, the most promising approach to improving safety in fog may be the use of rear fog lamps. Such lamps would appear to be very effective in addressing the important problem of collisions with other vehicles in fog.” Ok, I believe it Michael Flannagan is a smart man, but, it is an opinion built on maybes and what might be. It is not a fact based on research.

This same report has other such opinion statements such as this, “The NTSB report considered a range of possible countermeasures, including better use of citizens band radios, and laser and radar detection systems. The report discussed, and dismissed, the possibility of front fog lamps as a solution in a single short paragraph, which also included a favorable mention of rear fog lamps.” I am not going to run out and get a CB radio based on this report nor will I install a rear fog light because it received favorable mention.

The study concludes, “In terms of vehicle lighting, the most promising approach to improving safety in fog may be the use of rear fog lamps.”
It certainly may be. But it may not be.

This study is rather old. There are hopefully more recent studies. Do any of you have links to studies or research about the safety aspects of rear fog lights?
 
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-Virgil-

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For those of us who drive vehicles that don't have rear fog lamps, what would be the next best way to improve our visibility to the motorist behind us? Turn on the hazards?

Yes, and slow way down.
 

-Virgil-

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Has it ever been established through research that rear fog lights provide a safety benefit

Yes. Fairly extensive research on the topic was done in Germany in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and then again in the late 1970s and again in the early 1990s. I have some of this research, but it's all in deep storage I won't practically have access to until at least next summer, and none of it is in a form that is readily postable. In the meantime, there's a good and very dense US-based report, with lots of references for further reading, here.

Ok, I believe it Michael Flannagan is a smart man, but, it is an opinion built on maybes and what might be. It is not a fact based on research.

Well, no. Out of context that's what it sounds like, but in fact (and in context) it's a statement made in the kind of language that is appropriate and expected in a formal scientific paper. It translates more or less to "Rear fog lamps work, but a discussion of that topic is outside the scope of this paper".


This same report has other such opinion statements such as this, “The NTSB report considered a range of possible countermeasures, including better use of citizens band radios, and laser and radar detection systems

That's not an opinion, it's a description of an NTSB report.

The report discussed, and dismissed, the possibility of front fog lamps as a solution in a single short paragraph, which also included a favorable mention of rear fog lamps.

That's also not an opinion, it's further description of the NTSB report. Literature review is another standard part of a scientific paper.

Scientific papers are similar to technical standards and regulations in the respect that they're written with English words, but the language they're written in is not the ordinary everyday English you and I speak. Terms and tones that mean one thing in regular English mean very different things in technical standards, regulations, and scientific papers. Just because someone can proficiently read and comprehend English does not necessarily mean they can proficiently read and comprehend scientific papers, and your reaction to the one you looked at shows that you're more toward the "cannot" end of that scale. This is not meant or intended as an insult; most people don't have this skill because most people don't have occasion to read scientific papers.

The study concludes, “In terms of vehicle lighting, the most promising approach to improving safety in fog may be the use of rear fog lamps.” It certainly may be. But it may not be.

You're doing it again: reading a scientific paper as though it's a newspaper article or cookbook.

This study is rather old

That doesn't make it null or void. Not much has changed about driving in fog. We have some new light sources (LEDs) for vehicle lights, but the specifications for taillamps and rear fog lamps haven't changed significantly.

I am not going to run out and get a CB radio based on this report nor will I install a rear fog light because it received favorable mention.

Um...good for you, I guess? Not sure what you intend with this statement. Taken together with the tone of your whole post, and that other babble you put up about misusing brake lamps as rear fog lamps, it looks like you're spoiling for a fight. No fight is warranted here, and more importantly, a fight of the kind you seem to want to try to start will not be tolerated on this board.

(Also, I had to clean up a bunch of font-formatting markup in your post, and Alaric had to do the same in your earlier post. I'm not sure why you are so insistent that what you type should appear in the Verdana font, but please stop it. You might be doing it intentionally, or you might be accidentally doing it by composing your post in Microsoft Word and then copy/pasting it here, but either way, please stop it. It's not nice to make messes other people have to come along and clean up.)
 
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Magio

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For those of us who drive vehicles that don't have rear fog lamps, what would be the next best way to improve our visibility to the motorist behind us? Turn on the hazards? Or would that be too confusing?

Yes, and slow way down.

Im not sure about that Virgil. There are disadvantages to using flashers while driving such as them disabling the blinkers on many vehicles and its actually illegal in many states to use your flashers while driving. There was even a recent news article where police were telling people not to use their flashers in extremely heavy rain.

http://www.ajc.com/news/national/us...es-use-could-cost-you/4GKuiHXYiiowRgq5CgPjLP/
 
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-Virgil-

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Oh, don't get me wrong; flashers are not optimal for the task. But if you must be on the road in severely reduced visibility conditions, and you don't have a rear fog lamp, flashers are both preferable to nothing, and preferable to anything else you might have available -- the only other option would be riding the brakes, which would rob followers of a visible state change when you slow down, and that would be a severe safety hazard). Moreover, using flashers in these conditions is defensible on grounds that an invisible car is a safety hazard. As for no-hazards-when-driving laws, well, sometimes we have to choose between being compliant and being safest, and I'd much rather receive a ticket for improper use of flashers than get plowed into by a car, truck or bus whose driver couldn't see me.

(also, you're not really going to sit there and argue that the flashers overriding the turn signals is a bigger safety hazard than the presence and position of your car being invisible to other drivers, are you? It's a nonissue anyway; if you're forced to use the flashers in low-visibility conditions, of course you would turn off the flashers if you needed to use the turn signal.)
 
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Magio

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Oh, don't get me wrong; flashers are not optimal for the task. But if you must be on the road in severely reduced visibility conditions, and you don't have a rear fog lamp, flashers are both preferable to nothing, and preferable to anything else you might have available -- the only other option would be riding the brakes, which would rob followers of a visible state change when you slow down, and that would be a severe safety hazard). Moreover, using flashers in these conditions is defensible on grounds that an invisible car is a safety hazard. As for no-hazards-when-driving laws, well, sometimes we have to choose between being compliant and being safest, and I'd much rather receive a ticket for improper use of flashers than get plowed into by a car, truck or bus whose driver couldn't see me.

I do think you have a point and there have been times in the past when I was caught in super heavy rain unexpectedly and I too used my flashers to help make myself more conspicuous. After I read articles such as the one above stating not to do that though, I didn't know whether the increased conspicuity outweighed the dangers of confusing other drivers.

also, you're not really going to sit there and argue that the flashers overriding the turn signals is a bigger safety hazard than the presence and position of your car being invisible to other drivers, are you?
I'm not arguing with anybody. I paraphrased an article. Since there have been many police officers who have stated that I'm sure they have seen some incidents wherein the use of flashers confused someone and caused/almost caused an accident. It goes back to what I stated earlier that I didn't know whether the increased conspicuity outweighs the dangers of confusing other drivers. Maybe you have something that shows otherwise.

It's a nonissue anyway; if you're forced to use the flashers in low-visibility conditions, of course you would turn off the flashers if you needed to use the turn signal.
Oh no its not that simple. Of course you can turn the flashers off but there are many, many people (and I know because I used to be one of them) who do not know, or may forget in a tense situation, that the flashers disable the blinkers. Many years ago before I knew that, I drove on the road a couple of times with my flashers on and also trying to use my turn signals. I didn't know that moving the blinker stalk was doing absolutely nothing. I didn't realize it until I read it in an article and I didn't believe the article until I actually went out and tested it. I had not really given it any thought but in my subconscious I figured the blinker stalk would over-ride the flashers which I later found out wasn't true. It would be nice if they insured everyone knew these thing when they go to get their drivers license.
 

Alaric Darconville

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For those of us who drive vehicles that don't have rear fog lamps, what would be the next best way to improve our visibility to the motorist behind us? Turn on the hazards?

Typically, hazard flashers are for stopped vehicles only (although some people use them to try to get to the hospital quickly, an 'off-label' use). But in super heavy fog or extremely torrential rain, the hazard flashers help make your car more visible and it's all automatic. Separate yellow rear turn signals would work even better, because then your stop lamps' message isn't ambiguated. For the most part, it may be safer to *keep moving* than to pull off unless there's a very safe place to pull off-- and then people behind you may yet still try to follow.
 

Alaric Darconville

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Im not sure about [using hazard flashers if rear fog lamps aren't available]. There are disadvantages to using flashers while driving such as them disabling the blinkers on many vehicles and its actually illegal in many states to use your flashers while driving.
Yes, we've said "you can't wish a lamp into another function", but hazard flashers are designed to warn other drivers of a particular vehicular hazard. Yes, they're typically used with stopped vehicles, but in conditions like super-dense fog and torrential rain, *stopping* your vehicle, even when pulled off to the side of the road, can put you and others in more danger. Proceeding slowly and cautiously is sometimes the more prudent choice.

There was even a recent news article where police were telling people not to use their flashers in extremely heavy rain.
I've seen "recent news articles" where the police say some dumb things, and sometimes outright wrong things (I'd seen a warning to not deposit a scam check on the basis that it "gives the scammer access to your bank account".) I've also seen "recent news articles" where the police say something, and the journalists miss the point entirely and write something dumb.

From that poorly-researched fluff piece said:
A metro Atlanta police department recently warned its residents that using hazard lights while you're driving may incorrectly signal to other motorists that you're stopped or otherwise traveling much slower than other traffic.
No, actually, when I'm using my hazard flashers in that torrential rain, I'm *correctly* signaling that I'm *traveling much slower than other traffic*. That's what -Virgil- said to do:
Turn on the hazards?
Yes, and slow way down.
and that's what I'm saying to do. Obviously, one shouldn't cruise around at clear-weather speeds in a monsoon, having turned on their hazard flashers.
 
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CeeBee

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Have you tried not following too closely? As far as "eye level", there is some amount of latitude for mounting heights
But usually they're closer to the 250mm height than as high up as 1 or 1.2m.

This has nothing to do with following too closely. It's simply annoying at any distance, even when stopped.

As per mounting height: You would be hard pressed today to find a modern vehicle in Europe that has a rear fog lamp mounted at a low height of 250mm. That would have been true of the 1970's, when the fog lamp was mounted below the rear bumper, but today's cars all resemble miniature suv's, with rear lamp clusters all mounted at least halfway up the rear quarter panel. Just for the hell of it, I went out and measured my van and my wife's car. The van - Renault Kangoo - has a rear fog light height of 1100mm. The car - Skoda Fabia - has a lamp height of 900mm. These heights now seem to be the new norm since all? rear fog lamps are integrated into the rear light clusters.

But the problem isn't the lights, it's the misuse of them that bothers me.
 

bemymonkey

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It's not just misuse - it's not knowing how or when to use them.

That said, is the title implying there are still cars *without* rear fog lamps? I did not know that this was a thing :|
 

Alaric Darconville

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It's not just misuse - it's not knowing how or when to use them.
Not using them when needing to is a form of misuse.

That said, is the title implying there are still cars *without* rear fog lamps? I did not know that this was a thing :|
It's a thing in North America since they're not required by law. It's NOT a thing in UNECE signatories because they ARE required by law.
 

-Virgil-

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Typically, hazard flashers are for stopped vehicles only

Where I live, and in many places I've lived before, extra-slow vehicles (such as heavily-loaded trucks) use their flashers when they're unable to keep up with the flow speed of traffic on the highway. They do this either because the law requires it or by long-standing custom. It seems to do the job of informing other traffic, closing in at high speed, that this slow-moving vehicle is a hazard that needs to be avoided. It does not seem to confuse other drivers.

For the most part, it may be safer to *keep moving* than to pull off unless there's a very safe place to pull off-- and then people behind you may yet still try to follow.

I think that's probably the second-biggest danger (after just plain being plowed into from behind) in severely reduced visibility conditions: the following driver will latch on and cling to you even as you try to pull off the road.
 

-Virgil-

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I've seen "recent news articles" where the police say some dumb things, and sometimes outright wrong things

That's an important point, too. My favorite is "Oh, the airbag saved her life" types of statements by responding police officers. Maybe and maybe not, but the thing is, police officers, even dedicated ones who see hundreds and hundreds of traffic collisions every year, are not traffic collision analysts with the training, expertise and equipment needed to support that kind of a statement. Basing recommendations on what we think we understand of what we think we have seen is just human nature; it feels right, but it's often wrong.
 

-Virgil-

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You would be hard pressed today to find a modern vehicle in Europe that has a rear fog lamp mounted at a low height of 250mm.

Have you checked out recent MINI models? The Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ? The VW Beetle?
 

Alaric Darconville

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Where I live, and in many places I've lived before, extra-slow vehicles (such as heavily-loaded trucks) use their flashers when they're unable to keep up with the flow speed of traffic on the highway. They do this either because the law requires it or by long-standing custom. It seems to do the job of informing other traffic, closing in at high speed, that this slow-moving vehicle is a hazard that needs to be avoided. It does not seem to confuse other drivers.
That's another good point-- many heavy vehicle drivers routinely do this, and don't confuse other drivers. Going up steep grades at high altitudes (reduced engine power, even with turbo/supercharging), they can be rapidly approached from the rear by faster cars whose drivers may not realize they're approaching that fast. The truck drivers are correctly using these flashers to communicate to operators of other vehicles of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing.
 

Alaric Darconville

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That's an important point, too. My favorite is "Oh, the airbag saved her life" types of statements by responding police officers.
Sadly, sometimes it's actually more a case of "the airbag didn't kill her", at least with U.S. airbag systems.

But as far as the whoppers you hear, others include: "My fog lamps kept me from hitting that deer", "my flashing CHMSL keeps me from getting rear-ended", and "loud pipes save lives!".

With respect to fog lamps of all kinds, it's important to note that in UNECE signatories, front fog lamps are merely regulated, but rear fog lamps are both regulated and required. (In North America, neither front nor rear fog lamps are Federally-regulated, one of those things we're a little bit behind on. Not to start an argument over which regulatory system is better, by any means.)
 
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zespectre

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That's another good point-- many heavy vehicle drivers routinely do this, and don't confuse other drivers. Going up steep grades at high altitudes (reduced engine power, even with turbo/supercharging), they can be rapidly approached from the rear by faster cars whose drivers may not realize they're approaching that fast. The truck drivers are correctly using these flashers to communicate to operators of other vehicles of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing.

Interesting because when I took CDL training (back in the "crash box transmission" era) we were taught that if you were "15 under" you ran with your flashers on. I thought it was still a standard everywhere but apparently not.
 

jaycee88

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Interesting because when I took CDL training (back in the "crash box transmission" era) we were taught that if you were "15 under" you ran with your flashers on. I thought it was still a standard everywhere but apparently not.

Out of curiosity, I flipped through my state's driver's manual and it makes no mention of the use of hazard lights anywhere. So someone just learning how to drive would need a more experienced driver to advise them on how and when to use them, or they would need to rely on their own common sense.
 

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