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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Chris mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating. I don’t understand the fascination with fog lights. It’s like every idiot out there on the road with a set of fog lights says to himself, “Self, it would be brighter in front of me if I have two sets of lights running, I should turn them on!” And so it is, everybody with a pair uses them.

The end result is those of us in vehicles that may end up in front of said hooligans are getting blasted with double the fun, and it hurts our eyes. This is made worse when you run in a vehicle that is low to the ground, and you’re already getting directly into the beam of the normal lamps — now there’s another set that are calibrated to nail you perfectly in the rear view mirror.

The problem is, most folks don’t seem to realize that fog lights are for use in the fog. I’ll even grant you heavy rain. But on a clear dark night, fog lights have no purpose whatsoever, other than to piss people off in front of you. On an interstate, I guarantee there are enough lights between your normal lamps, the cars around you, and the lights on the interstate, to see ahead of you. Further, at these speeds, the quick piercing lights and the small close-to-nose illumination they provide are completely worthless, as any benefit they could provide would be lost in the split second it takes something to crash through your windshield.

Fog lights are meant for two things:

  1. To make it easier to see in the fog.
  2. To make it easier for other drivers to see you. This is the far more important purpose. Remember that.

This is made worse by those of you in Audis. See, Audi brought a tool over to the states that is useful in Europe where people understand it. The sad thing is that American drivers are oafs, and they don’t understand all of the tools given to them in a proper European automobile. For this reason, most manufacturers do not burden our feeble minds with features they may need to think about to use. Audi, however, decided its drivers were smart enough. Audi, of course, is wrong. They provided the Audi driver with fog lights, but proper European fog lights. What this means is that one or two (depending on the model year) of the rear red rear lights near the registration plate are illuminated much brighter than usual when the front fog lights are enabled. These red rear lights are part of a proper set of fog lights, and are meant to make it easier to see a vehicle in fog from behind. If you leave them on all the time, you now have to red lights at a matched intensity to your brake lights. This makes it harder to distinguish whether you are braking or not, and it makes it altogether more likely that somebody will miss the cue and nail your ass when you stomp on the brakes.

This all comes to pass because last week I was driving around in the residential part of West Norwalk when some redneck kept tailgating me with his brights and massive fog lights on, attached via coat hangars. I pulled to the side, flashed my emergency blinkers, and then resumed pursuit of him, with my brights and fog lights on. This was childish, but I’d gotten rather tired of such displays of intelligence. Obviously a better man would simply have let the man pass and waited a few moments before resuming his day.

I’m not a particularly good man.

So, the guy swerves to block the entire street, stops his car, gets out and starts running towards me screaming “You got something to say, punk?”

Rather than do something even more stupid, I backed up and took another street.

The point of this incoherent jumble of words is that you should, as a general rule, leave your fog lights off. They’re not necessary, they’re irritating, and you’re probably too stupid to know when to use them. Next time you’re off in some country roads alone, go ahead and use them — treat them like brights, and rejoice in your ability to blast more candlepower into the night, but turn them off when traffic approaches. If you find yourself traveling 20mph with a dense fog and can’t see the vehicles around you, turn those lights on and shine them with pride, for you have finally discovered their purpose.