Super fog.

The name alone conjures images from a science fiction movie. Unfortunately for residents of North Carolina (NC) and Virginia (VA), the weather phenomenon has been all too real in late August 2001. The U.S. Department of Agriculture describes super fog as a combination of smoke and water vapor that produces zero visibility over roadways. Multiple-vehicle pileups, numerous physical injuries, extensive property damage and fatalities have been associated with visibility reductions due to smoke or smoke and fog on roadways.

As a Virginia personal injury attorney and resident of Southern Virginia, I am all too familiar with the smoke that as been plaguing our area from the recent Great Dismal Swamp fire. The smoke has caused accidents and injuries in areas such as Franklin, Suffolk and Williamsburg, which have been affected the most.

On U.S. Route 58 in Suffolk last week, three cars encountered the super fog and crashed. Only a few minutes later a tractor-trailer crashed into a car as it entered an area of super fog. The problem occurs when cars and trucks traveling at high speed enter into an almost zero-visibility situation that can cover the highway for miles. The inability of car and truck drivers to see each other and slow or stop to avoid crashes creates a critically dangerous situation.

Here are some safety tips if you encounter super fog:

  • Slow down! Most of the major pileups occur because drivers didn’t slow down and, once it was too late, they couldn’t stop.
  • Do not use your bright beams. The high beams of your bright lights will reflect off the fog causing increased glare.
  • Pay attention to your speedometer. The lack of any visual references while driving in fog can make it seem like you are going slower than you actually are. It doesn’t matter what the guy behind you thinks: He can go around.
  • Avoid lane changes. If you must change lanes, always signal well ahead of time and use extra caution before moving over.
  • Roll down the driver’s side window and listen for anything unusual that can warn you of a problem up ahead.

If you have been injured in an accident caused by super fog or any other condition, please read our Frequently Asked Questions about car accidents.