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Royal Floor Sweeper
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was looking at threads on here and thought about adding some info on what foglights are for.

Here is an interesting blog entry I found:
http://mydrive.roadfly.com/blog/armychief/268/
� Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - A Rant About Fog Lights

It's November in central Germany (and coincidentally, in most other parts of the world, too), and that means rain and cooler temperatures. It also means that the temperature and the dew point are converging more frequently, resulting in significant ground fog.


Last winter, we did a poll over at the M3 Forum in which we learned that over 50% of participating M3 owners (overwhelmingly from the U.S.A.) either turned their fog lights on all of the time, or almost always in conjunction with their use of normal headlights at night. In other words, they were habitually being used as a form of supplemental lighting, and little -- if any -- thought was really being given to their use. All of this begs the question: what's the big deal?


Well, perhaps this isn't a big deal after all. That said, I wanted to pass along a few thoughts on the topic as it takes on even greater seasonal relevance. Many visitors appreciate knowing more about the driving environment in which these cars are made to run (Germany), so I raise the issue simply to educate interested drivers. As with any other issue, once you've considered the facts, you can make a more informed decision, either pro or con.



So, how do the Germans do things? Simple. In Germany, the law states that fog lights (Nebelscheinwerfer) are never to be used unless visibility from an actual obscuration is down to 50 meters or less. The fine for noncompliance is a relatively modest one, but the purpose of the legislation is to prevent unnecessary light pollution on the roadways as well as to enhance safety.

By and large, it is unusual to see someone driving around with their fog lights on in Germany (even in what some might consider a heavy fog), as most drivers take the 50 meter visibility standard pretty seriously. When you do see them, it is typically an American G.I. who has turned on both the front and rear fog lights on his well-used Euro spec BMW. (This is generally done out of ignorance, as most don't even realize they have a rear fog light.)

America is, of course, a whole different ball game. Just 20 years ago, relatively few U.S. cars (usually imports) came equipped with fog lights. Most buyers had little actual need for this equipment, but over time it came to be considered a very prestigious option to have. Of course, the phenomenon really took off about 10 years ago, when domestic manufacturers began adding fog lights to more and more of their home-grown models. Today, it is almost unusual to find a car that isn't equipped with some form of secondary illumination, and therein lies the rub. Lacking a clear standard, the rule of thumb on U.S. roadways seems to be if you've got them, turn them on. Having experienced both the European and American driving environments (I'm speaking primarily of nighttime driving here), I have to say that the difference is rather profound.

You might find this a trivial matter, or simply be unwilling to consider changing your habits in the face of what has become such common practice. If so, then the rest of this particular blog entry won't be of much interest to you. Thanks for visiting, and I hope to see you back here again soon!




Now, as for the rest of you, think about it: unless you are traveling at a very low rate of speed, all a fog light shows you is what is about to pass directly under your front bumper. In a normal driving situation, it doesn't give you adequate time to avoid anything; all it does is brighten up areas in front of the car that you don't normally need to see to drive. Areas which, I would argue, don't much matter to begin with, or else headlights would be designed differently. It may be reassuring to have some fill-in lighting on a particularly dark stretch of road, but an honest man would have to agree that this serves no real purpose in normal driving conditions.




The bigger problem, however, is one of glare. Since fog lights put out highly focused light so close to the road surface, the reflective glare into the eyes of oncoming drivers is significant. Given that I am accustomed to the European standard, I find it rather inconsiderate and irrating, but I know this is usually borne of simple ignorance (as opposed to malicious intent), so I try not to get too excited about it. Still, depending upon the vehicle and the conditions, facing down a pair of fog lights (often with even more powerful "high output" aftermarket bulbs) can be downright disorienting. Right about here is where many drivers would try to insert the "well, people can see me better" defense, but in all honestly, I'm not sure that is what people have in mind when they say this. What good can possibly come from throwing all of that extra reflected light into someone else's face?

There is a very good reason why so many countries have laws governing the use of these lights, and we as Americans look rather ignorant when we march to a different drummer; especially when vanity is the motivation about 90% of the time. I don't bring it up as a "holier than thou" issue by any means, but rather as a lesson learned while living abroad. Something as simple as when and how you choose to use a fog light communicates something about you as a driver. Whether you ultimately choose to do anything differently or not, this is probably worth considering simply because (in my view), M3 owners have an obligation to be better drivers than the average Joe.

I'm not suggesting that anyone is to be looked down upon for their choices here; only you can determine what's right for your situation. I'm merely saying that it is probably worth asking one simple question before you mindlessly press the fog light button: "knowing what I know now, why am I about to turn these things on?"

End of rant. Thanks for listening ...
 

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Royal Floor Sweeper
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
This thread was inspired by:
TJ, i would be so fucking pissed i was coming head on with you with those on!!!
I would be too, if I was coming on myself w/ all the lighting on.

Hence, the quick-access "on/off" switches and using them in REMOTE areas . . .
Like in the country and on mountain roads late at night. Also, the reason for multiple combinations of lighting.
"Normal" highway use at night is normal headlamps, no "driving lights," in higher traffic areas (ie-> where I am likely to actually have oncoming traffic). A lot of my night driving is on rural country roads, often unlined, w/ woods all around.

I'm VERY conscious of other drivers (also why NO HIDs in the low beams), after over a decade of driving a Miata where my head was at light levels for trucks, esp. pickups and SUVs, running w/ everything on as bright as possible- in the MIDDLE of traffic. I don't want to blind anyone, ever.



Edit: for those who read this and think of the Carolina part of the Blue Ridge as heavily populated, soft, rolling hills, they ain't. It is some of the roughest mountains in the US, w/ steep cliffs and 180 hairpins w/ steep inclines, and wildlife-> deer, bears, bobcats, and occasional sightings of the real "Carolina panther," a type of cougar. The roads I specifically had in mind are gravel or recently paved, w/ cliff drops-offs and no guard rails or ANY ambient lighting. They are rough and DARK at night. One article I read on mountain roads listed the Smokies and the Carolina Blue Ridge as the one and two roughest mountain driving in the US. The famous "Deal's Gap"/Tail of the Dragon is typical for the area, notably mostly for lack of side-roads than twists for me. I know of a number of roads just as twisty, but often narrower and far less traveled. Come down sometime and experience them!

THAT is my intended function, NOT interstate driving or anything "in-town."
My inlaws have a cabin up in those mountains, so I LOVE going up there to play.
 

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Royal Floor Sweeper
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Around here, in the country, many folks equip their vehicles with all sorts of supplementary lighting, factory options and aftermarket, as the roads sometimes DO need them. Now, I'm talking country gravel and dirt roads or country highways with zero street lamps and miles and miles of hills, twists, turns, and little traffic and little ambient lighting other than moonlight at night. So, such lighting actually makes sense.
There are 55MPH highways I go on regularly where one MAY have 12 cars pass head-on in a trip of over 20 miles. Yet, that road has no lighting beyond one's own headlights. So, longer range beams is a good thing, as long as one turns them off when passing someone else, esp. from the back or head-on.
Oh, and there are GOBS of wild animals-> possums, raccoons, dogs, coyotes, wolves, deer, bobcats, bears, and the like. One must constantly survey the road shoulder and the area just beyond it as they drive.
So, such lighting make sense, in the correct use (unlike in an urban environment).


The issue is that far more than should run with the lighting on ALL the time when dark, even in-town and in traffic. I'm talking pickups w/ a light bar on the aftermarket roll bar above the cab with a string of lights, the lighting in the grill and bumper area, and the like, PLUS the lighting in the factory headlamps.
I've been driving my Miata, equipped with Hella H4 motorcycle 7" lamps and still seen my own shadow around my headlamp beams thanks to the lighted monstrosity behind me. I use a ballcap and real mirror to regulate the lighting coming in, so I can still see in the night (what over a decade of continual top-down, nearly all whether, driving will do to someone).
Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

As such, I am keenly aware of the pros and cons of various lighting and use it appropriately. I hope you all do too.
 

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Royal Floor Sweeper
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
 

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I'm a strong believer in fog lights, but only at low speeds if I have difficulty discerning possible obstacles to the immediate left and right of the car nose. This is primarily during precipitation (rain/fog/snow), but can also be when driving through my neighborhood at night.
 
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