"Add another item to the list of once-common features — including ashtrays, spare tires and turn-the-key ignition switches — disappearing from new cars: fog lamps.
Several makers of luxury vehicles have quietly omitted the front fog lights from many of their latest models, including Audi, Cadillac, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz and the new Genesis line from Hyundai. The trend is unlikely to stop there, as changes to high-end models inevitably filter down to mainstream cars and trucks.
Those companies say their latest high-tech headlights make separate fog lamps unnecessary. There is scant independent research to verify such claims; the public-interest groups that test headlights, including Consumers Union and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, do not conduct tests of fog lights and do not take a position on their effectiveness.
Nor do the federal safety regulators that issue standards for high- and low-beam headlights. In a statement, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said, “Fog lamps are considered supplemental equipment, which means there are no applicable federal requirements for these lamps other than they must not impair the effectiveness of the required lighting equipment.”
Though fog is an isolated and somewhat regional and seasonal road hazard, it is particularly challenging for drivers. A 2014 report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, looking at federal crash data on fatal crashes from 1990 to 2012 and police-reported crashes from 1990 to 2008, found that 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.
Eleven people died in a pileup in January 2012 near Gainesville, Fla., a crash that was linked to a combination of smoke and fog. In November 2007, a chain-reaction crash of 108 vehicles in fog near Fresno, Calif., resulted in two deaths, as did a 60-car pileup in Wyoming in April 2015. On Jan. 31, nearly 50 cars piled up in fog-related crashes near Hanford, Calif.
Lighting and safety experts caution that stand-alone front fog lights, which are usually set into the bumper close to the road, may be inadequate to prevent such horrific highway-speed crashes. But they can help drivers see road markings in fog at low speeds, perhaps keeping the car from hitting a tree or running into a ditch.
High-beam headlights, designed to send light into the distance, are especially ineffective at penetrating the fog, as they reflect off the moisture in the air. But even low beams throw enough light into the fog curtain that the effect can be blinding rather than illuminating.
Fog lamps are intended to provide an adjunct to the low beams. Because fog hovers close to the ground, the lamps are designed to shine down, illuminating the road beneath the fog. The top of the beam is cut off sharply so the light does not shine into the fog and reflect off it.
Jennifer Stockburger, the director of operations at the auto test center of Consumer Reports, said that although her magazine routinely tests headlights as part of its auto evaluations, it does not concern itself with fog lamps, which are “just meant for that low light in front of the bumper.”"
I'm a believer in auxiliary fog lights. They give some more peripheral vision in the dark and fog conditions, for when wildlife would most often enter the roadway and visibility is at it's lowest, giving more warning that something might walk out into the road before you could even sense it. I live in a rural area, but commute to an urban area, so my experience is probably different than urban or suburban drivers, though. My morning drive, before they plow the snow or salt the roads, before it is even remotely starting to get light out, is quite often very trying, due to widely varying adverse weather conditions, be it fog, rain or snow, or a combination of all three, in deep darkness.
They go off when you hit the brights, I don't flashed that they are too bright for oncoming drivers, and I think I'm not happy to seem them being deleted, with seemingly no studies to prove them obsolescent.
I don't have high end headlights, and I'm suspicious just how well the average high end headlight system compares to the enhancements offered by fog lights.
Are fog lights redundant and unnecessary now, in your opinion?