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Dangerous driving ahead

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Driving in fog is dangerous, be careful.

That's the main message the 48th Fighter Wing safety office wants to tell everyone that lives here.

"The main hazard of fog is that it obscures your vision and can distort your depth perception," said Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Algiere, 48th FW Ground safety manager. "When drivers do not use their headlights it makes it is extremely difficult for other drivers to see them."

She continued to write that drivers should also be careful with their headlights. If a driver uses their high beams, they could blind other drivers and the glare of the fog could impair the driver's sight. Drivers should use low beams and when visibility is restricted to 100 meters or less, they should turn on their fog lights.

"Last year there was a mishap where a military member was driving to work in the morning when it was very foggy," she wrote. "He could not see the approaching intersection and ran through it and ended up in the ditch across the road. Luckily he was not seriously injured."

Sergeant Algiere recommends drivers listen for weather warnings and use the base weather advisory online or phone number to assess risk, but a general understanding of what fog is may help them out also.

"We mostly have radiation fog here," said Staff Sgt. Rob Johnson, 48th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster. "The morning after a rain shower, the ground is wet and when the sun comes up the moisture starts to evaporate from the soil and condenses in the air to make the fog."

So if drivers aren't calling phone numbers or checking weather Web sites before they drive to work, they should be cautious after it rains.

And just because there's no fog when a driver takes off, it doesn't mean there isn't any around the next bend. "Fog is often patchy so don't speed up as visibility improves, you could end up back in thick fog down the road," Sergeant Algiere said.

Fog limits visibility, but it's not the only danger, the fog could be hiding something even more dangerous: Freezing fog and black ice.

"Freezing fog is basically when the temp is below freezing and fog develops it can become freezing fog and sticks to surfaces like metal," Sergeant Johnson said. "It's not really like frost, because frost is moisture in the air that freezes on the surface. Freezing fog can become icy and coat the roads with black ice."

"Depending on how thick the fog is, if you can't see I wouldn't be driving in it," he said. "If both the air is below freezing and the ground is below freezing I start to worry about black ice. If your getting drizzle or rain, it can be extremely dangerous out there."

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