· Royal Floor Sweeper
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:
Here is an interesting blog entry I found:
� 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 ...