According to a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, deadly fog- and smoke-related crashes have declined over the past 20 years, but they still remain a significant threat to highway safety in Ohio and nationwide. In 2012, fog caused 385 fatal crashes in the U.S.
A highway fog hazard occurs when air moisture or smoke greatly reduces road visibility. High beam headlights do not help because they reflect off the haze in the air. As a result, multi-car pileups can occur. One such incident took place on Interstate 75 near Gainesville, Florida, on Jan. 29, 2012. Smoke and fog caused a sudden drop in visibility, and 19 cars smashed into each other in less than one hour. Eleven people died, and 18 others were injured.
Certain regions are more susceptible to foggy conditions than others. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Region 4 in the Southeast–which contains Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee–experiences the most fog- and smoke-related fatal crashes each year. However, drivers in Region 1 of New England experience the highest proportion of fatal fog-related crashes annually. The report states that winter weather and certain roadway design features, such as undivided highways, lead to more casualties. Statistics also show that younger drivers are more likely to crash in foggy conditions than older drivers.
The report concludes that more must be done to reduce fog- and smoke-related crashes. Suggestions include further research into driver behavior, better road designs and the development of more sophisticated crash-avoidance technology in vehicles.
While some motor vehicle accidents in bad weather are unavoidable, others are caused by motorists who are going too fast for the conditions. A person who has been injured in such an accident may want to obtain the assistance of a personal injury attorney in determining who should bear responsibility.