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Traffic Talk: Some motorists are in the fog about auxiliary lamps

Don Gammill: Oklahoma statues define fog lamps for vehicles and how they should be used.
By DON GAMMILL Published: April 16, 2012

It was a strange scene recently when a thick fog obscured everything and out of the nothingness came lights, right at me.

What first looked like some giant alien spacecraft, actually was a huge pickup, jacked up even higher. I haven't seen that many lights on one vehicle since an 18-wheeler blew by me on the interstate a while back.

That occurred on a clear night. But what about those vehicles with brightly illuminated lights when there is no darkness. Particularly, we're talking fog lights.

Perhaps you could address in your column a problem which is of general concern to the driving public. I refer to the use of fog lamps on vehicles when there is no fog. This seems to me to be an increasing problem. Early this morning, I observed that about every fifth vehicle approaching my vehicle had turned on the fog lamps. It was a beautiful morning. (1) Fog lamps afford no additional illumination to the road when there is no fog. (2) Such lamps are more blinding to an oncoming motorist than headlamps on high beam. (3) Fog lamps are especially difficult for oncoming drivers when they are located on a pickup ... Most pickups have headlamps that are placed so high on the front of the vehicle that they blind the oncoming driver even when they are on low beam. Adding fog lamps to strong headlamps really increases the problem for oncoming drivers. I believe much of the unnecessary use of fog lamps is a “macho” situation — look at me, my vehicle has fog lamps. (Most late model vehicles have them so there is little cause for anyone to brag). One question is whether there is a state statute that governs this use. If so, why is it not enforced? If there is no such statute, maybe some of the general public will read your newspaper column and voluntarily stop the unnecessary use of fog lamps. I hope you can help alleviate this situation.

William, Yukon

Here's the statute you're looking for, William — 47-12-217, on spot lamps, fog lamps and auxiliary lamps. It defines front and rear fog lamps.

“‘Front fog lamp' means a lamp mounted to provide illumination to the front of a motor vehicle during conditions of rain, snow, fog, dust, or other atmospheric disturbances; ‘Rear fog lamp' means a lamp mounted to provide illumination to the rear of a motor vehicle during conditions of rain, snow, fog, dust, or other atmospheric disturbances.”

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