Fog Lights: The Latest in Obsolete Car Tech

Fog is a known killer on highways around the world, but a popular accessory to battle the soupy stuff is starting to fade away from today’s vehicles.

The New York Times says,

Fog was a factor in nearly 20 percent of deadly multicar pileups involving 10 or more vehicles.

Fog is especially prevalent in some regions, including much of the Southeast, northern New England, the Pacific Northwest and the Central Valley of California, and it forms most often in winter. Deadly multicar crashes generally occur when cars and trucks traveling at interstate speed drive into what is essentially a low-lying cloud and quickly lose visibility. Drivers may not see the slowed cars ahead until it is too late, with one vehicle crashing into the next, including huge tractor-trailers.

Fog presents a real danger, and many car shoppers make sure their new cars are equipped with fog lights. In fact, the lower lights are expected on higher-end cars, trucks, and SUVs.

Some automakers, though, are removing the lights, because they’re no longer deemed necessary as headlight technology improves. Yes, add fog lights to the once-common list of features on cars that are going away forever.

Crank windows. Cigarette lighters. Spare tires. Turn-key ignitions. Manual transmissions. The list of now-obsolete features on new cars is steadily growing, and Audi, Cadillac, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, and Genesis have already added fog lights to that list by eliminating them from some of their newest vehicles.

Other automakers aren’t likely to be far behind.

Car manufacturers say that headlight technology is so good, extra fog lights are simply not needed anymore. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn’t require them or even test their effectiveness.

Anyone who’s ever driven through fog and switched on the high beams knows that those lights don’t penetrate fog but instead reflect right back toward the driver. Fog lighting goes a step beyond what traditional low beams can provide and illuminates a small section of road under the fog to help the driver see painted lines and potential hazards.

Their usefulness has been questioned, though, because the area they illuminate isn’t adequate, even for reduced highway speeds.

Future technology, such as LIDAR and infrared, should further seal the doomed fate of fog lamps.

The loss of fog lights certainly isn’t an Earth-shattering development, but it’s an indication of what the future of cars might look like. Once fog lights are outdated and unnecessary, could the same thing happen to headlights? Will cars of the future “see” without the use of visible light?

Do you find the fog lights on your car useful?

-tgriffith

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5 Comments

  1. Fog Lights and Driving Lights are two different things. Fog Lights have YELLOW lenses lights that are very helpful in fog. The yellow light does not bounce back on you as a white light does. Driving Lights have clear lenses and are helpful in poorly lit areas. In Pennsylvania your fog lights must be wired so that they can not be used with high beams. Many European vehicles are equipped with a rear fog light which is a very bright red light that can be seen in dense fog so a following vehicle does not rear-end you.

  2. I consider them essential, even if they don’t throw enough light for the driver: they increase the number of lights on the front of the vehicle, so that oncoming drivers have more to see … and it’s always possible that you’ll lose your headlights.

  3. I can’t say that the fog lights on my last six cars (Audis and BMWs) have provided any significant advantage. But I must say that I still like the look of these lights and am sorry to hear they are disappearing.

  4. I won’t buy a car that doesn’t have fog lights .I use them all the time

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