How to behave correctly on the road in low and limited visibility conditions

Limited and low visibility in traffic regulations

Poor visibility

There are two similar concepts in traffic rules: limited visibility and low visibility. Although they are related to completely different situations, drivers quite often confuse them with each other.

This article discusses both of these terms and the situations in which they apply.

What is visibility deficit?

The term low visibility is deciphered in paragraph 1.2 of the traffic rules:

“Insufficient visibility” is the visibility of the road less than 300 meters in conditions of fog, rain, snow and the like, as well as at dusk.

Simply put, visibility deficiency means that the road is not visible due to weather or time of day.

The term applies to the traffic situation as a whole. That is, if the driver drives another hundred meters down the road, the weather and time of day will not change and visibility will remain poor.

What is limited visibility?

Once again we shall address to clause 1.2 of traffic rules:

“Limited visibility” is the driver’s visibility of the road in the direction of travel, limited by the terrain, geometric parameters of the road, vegetation, structures, constructions or other objects, including vehicles.

The term limited visibility also means that the road is not clearly visible. However, in this case visibility is limited by something, i.e. some objects on or near the roadway.

For example, there are bushes growing on the side of the road that are blocking part of the road with their branches.

The term applies only to a specific place from which the road is not clearly visible. If you drive past an object that limits visibility, the limited visibility itself will disappear.

Rules for Low Visibility

Since the term low visibility applies to the situation as a whole, the rules associated with it mainly refer to the use of lights and retroreflectors to reduce the risk of hitting a poorly visible object.

Use of headlights and lights

A vehicle in fog

The rules on the use of lights and lamps in low visibility conditions are listed in paragraphs 19.1, 19.3, 19.4, 19.7, 19.8.

The following lights must be on when driving:

  • Headlights or dipped-beam headlamps – on motor vehicles.
  • Headlights or lanterns – on bicycles.
  • Lights – on horse-drawn vehicles.
  • The parking lights – on trailers and towed vehicles.
  • The identification sign “road train”.

In addition to the headlights, fog lights and rear fog lights may be on when driving in low visibility conditions.

When stopped or parked, the lights must be on:

  • Parking lights. In addition to these, the dipped-beam headlamps, fog lamps and fog lamps may be switched on.
  • The identification sign “road train”.

Marking of projecting cargo

Cargo exceeding the dimensions of the transport unit in the front and rear by more than 1 metre or on the side by more than 0.4 metre from the outer edge of the registration light shall be indicated by the warning signs “Over-sized cargo”, and in the dark and poor visibility conditions, in addition in the front – with a lamp or a white retroreflector, in the rear – with a lamp or a red retroreflector.

Cargo that protrudes significantly beyond the vehicle’s dimensions must be additionally marked with lights or retroreflectors at the front and rear.

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Reflective lights for pedestrians

When crossing the road and walking along the shoulder or the edge of the roadway in the dark or in low visibility conditions, it is recommended that pedestrians, and outside built-up areas pedestrians are required to carry items with retroreflective devices and make these items visible to drivers of vehicles.

In low visibility conditions, pedestrians must use retroreflective items when crossing the road or moving along it (on the shoulder or the roadway). Outside populated areas retroreflectors are mandatory, in populated areas their use is recommended.

Retro-reflectors for bicycles and mopeds

24.10. When moving at night or in low visibility conditions, it is recommended that cyclists and moped drivers should wear retro-reflective devices and make them visible to drivers of other vehicles.

For cyclists and moped drivers the use of retroreflectors is not mandatory, but the rules still recommend having such elements.

Lights for foot columns

4.2 The movement of organized pedestrian columns on the carriageway shall be permitted only in the direction of traffic on the right-hand side, with no more than four persons in a row. In front and behind the column on the left-hand side there shall be escorts with red flags, and in darkness and in low visibility conditions – with flashlights switched on: in the front – white, in the back – red.

In low visibility conditions, an organized pedestrian column must be marked with flashlights (white in the front and red behind).

Restrictions on driving animals

  • Riding animals across railroad tracks and roads outside specially allocated places, and also in the dark time of the day and in low visibility conditions (except for cattle drives on different levels);

In conditions of insufficient visibility, it is prohibited to drive animals on roads (except for driving through special tunnels or bridges for animals).

In other words, all rules for low visibility conditions are designed to make objects on the road more visible and reduce the risk of collision.

Rules for limited visibility

No overtaking

  • at the end of an incline, on dangerous bends and other visibility impaired areas.

Overtaking is prohibited on road sections with limited visibility.

Reflective vest for the driver

2.3.4 In the case of forced stopping of a vehicle or a road traffic accident outside built-up areas in the dark time of the day or in the conditions of limited visibility on the carriageway or the roadside, wear a jacket, vest or jacket-coat with retroreflective stripsThe rules of the State Standard (GOST) 12.4.281-2014.

Paragraph 2.3.4 of the rules says that in limited visibility the driver must wear clothes with reflective strips.

When considering this paragraph, it may be assumed that its drafters have confused the concepts of limited visibility and low visibility.

For example, the driver is on the roadway in the area of limited visibility (around a sharp turn). If the driver wears a reflective vest, it will not affect its safety, as it is still not visible around the corner.

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If the driver wears a jacket with reflective strips in low visibility (in fog), the drivers of passing vehicles will be able to notice him earlier and take measures to avoid a collision.

It may also be recalled that above in the text of this article it was found that the headlights, lights and reflectors should be used precisely in low visibility conditions.

Road Signs in Low Visibility

The following traffic signs may be installed on steep curves with limited visibility:

Sign 1.11.1 Dangerous TurnoffSign 1.11.2 Dangerous curve

Sign 1.34.1 Direction of rotationSign 1.34.2 Direction of turn

Note. In addition to tight corners, there are other places where visibility is less than 300 meters, but they are not marked by special signs.

Rules when visibility is poor

There are also a few rules that apply to all situations where visibility is poor. That is, no matter the reason for poor visibility, the rules must be followed in any case.

Emergency lights and warning triangle

  • At the forced stop in places where it is forbidden, and where taking into account visibility conditions the vehicle cannot be seen by other drivers in due time.

If a driver is forced to stop and the vehicle is not clearly visible, the driver must switch on the hazard warning flashers and display the emergency stop sign.

Turning around

  • In places where the visibility of the road in at least one direction less than 100 m;

If Visibility is less than 100 metresIf visibility is less than 100 metres, then no turning is permitted.


10.1 The driver shall drive the vehicle at a speed not exceeding the speed limit, taking into account the volume of traffic, the characteristics and condition of the vehicle and load, the road and meteorological conditions, in particular the visibility in the direction of travel.

When choosing a speed, the driver must take into account visibility in the direction of travel. That is, in low visibility conditions and in places with limited visibility, it makes sense to reduce the speed.

Often, accidents are caused by drivers who speed through fog or smoke and hit a stationary obstacle.

Stopping and parking

  • on the carriageway in the vicinity of dangerous bends and sharp breaks in the road’s longitudinal profile when visibility is less than 100 m in at least one direction;

As well as turning around, stopping and parking is prohibited in places with visibility of less than 100 meters.

To summarize this article, the rules are written in such a way as to eliminate accidents in conditions of poor visibility of the road.

If visibility is limited due to weather, the traffic rules suggest the use of lights and reflectors. If the reason for poor visibility is a particular area of the road, the rules suggest abandoning dangerous maneuvering.

And in any case, if the road is not seen well enough, be careful and watchful.

Good luck on the roads!

Expert in automobile law in Russia. More than 11 years of experience in the study of automotive regulations and advice for drivers. Author of analytical articles and training courses. Head of the project PDD Master (

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How to behave correctly on the road in low and limited visibility

External factors on the road, such as weather or seasonal factors often play an important role. They influence the visibility conditions of objects. They must not be neglected during the operation of a vehicle.

Low visibility conditions

What does low visibility mean

Experienced motorists have often encountered conditions in which the visibility of the road situation decreases significantly. This can be caused by fog, heavy rain or excessive sunlight.

The driver cannot clearly distinguish objects or people in several tens or hundreds of meters. Such conditions are described in the Road Traffic Rules. Therefore, figuring out what for motorists means such an important term as lack of visibility, it is necessary to refer to the traffic regulations.

Important! Insufficient visibility on the road – a period of darkness, because the actual visibility depends on the work of the light devices installed on the vehicle.

Without additional assistance or devices, the driver is unable to distinguish the shape of objects moving on the road. It is not always obvious where there is a silhouette of a pedestrian, and where a different image. In these circumstances, it is recommended to significantly reduce the speed limit, and to be more visible to others, it is worth to turn on the alarm light.

Driving in low visibility conditions

Conditions that are characterized as visibility impairments include temporary phenomena. They block visibility further than 300 meters from the car. Twilight is one of the factors.

What does low visibility mean?

Twilight period is the time when the sun is just below the horizon. At the same time there is still good visibility at a long distance without turning on the headlights. Accordingly, twilight can be night and day.

During rain.

Beginning drivers may think that rain is dangerous for transport because it reduces the traction of the wheels with the road. In some cases, a wet roadway lowers the coefficient by up to 2x or more, which significantly increases braking distance. A lot of accidents happen because of aquaplaning.

Also precipitation in the form of rain or snow reduces the visibility of the road for the driver. Limited visibility should not be a surprise to the motorist. It is important to adjust in advance to the fact that during bad weather you need to change your driving behavior.

Even if the oncoming car poured water from a puddle or stream on the road the windshield, you can not brake sharply or make sudden maneuvers. It is worth to perform a number of measures:

  • turn on the windshield wipers immediately;
  • gently ease off the accelerator pedal;
  • If necessary, gradually shift to a lower gear, or turn on the emergency system, which will make the drivers around you understand your difficulties in controlling the car.

Once visibility is restored, turn off the emergency lights, but do not increase speed. Wet pads won’t be able to do their job properly.

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Driving in fog

Driving in fog requires more professionalism from the motorist than driving in rain. These weather conditions create a potentially high-crash situation on the road. Many people are killed and maimed in such accidents each year.

Negative factors of fog are:

  • Visibility is significantly reduced;
  • vision deception is formed;
  • it is difficult to orientate in the area;
  • there is no possibility of calculating distances to objects.

Such weather forms distorted perception of objects and transport. It is practically impossible to calculate the speed of a moving car or an oncoming one. There is a distortion of colors (except for the red spectrum). This makes red cars most visible.

In rain conditions.

High concentration and stress exhausts the driver, which can cause mistakes. Looking into the darkness, eyes get tired quickly, especially when the car does not have more adapted to the situation fog lights. The fog light in such situation turns out to be absolutely useless.

The correct behavior is the following:

  • it is important to reduce the speed so that it is 2 times less than the value of visibility in meters, for example, for visibility of 40 m, you need to go no faster than 20 km/h;
  • the driver must be able to brake within sight;
  • dipped beam and fog lights must be on;
  • the wipers on the windshield and the heater on the rear window must work;
  • if road markings are visible, you need to drive close to them, not to the roadside;
  • you can tilt your head forward or stick your head out of the window for a while, if necessary;
  • it is desirable to keep the side window open to be able to hear the noise of the approaching engine of another car;
  • it is possible periodically to give a sound signal outside the city.

It is not necessary to decrease essentially a distance with the front car in a fog. Also it is not necessary to shine it aggressively from behind, and it is better to dull the headlights. It is categorically inadmissible to stop on the carriageway, and it is important to remove vehicles from it as much as possible when you need to park. Make overtaking in such conditions is hardly appropriate, as anything to win will not be possible.

When dazzled by the sun.

One of the factors on the road that have a negative impact on visibility is the bright sun. Extremely brightness reduces concentration and negatively affects visibility.

It is problematic to drive towards sunset or sunrise. Also aggravating the situation in our climate is the abundance of snow around. Eyes quickly become tired from the strain, and it affects the driver’s condition.

A sudden move into the shade does not improve quickly, but rather creates a momentary blinding effect, when visibility is lost altogether when readjusting vision. The driver on a sunny day may lose concentration and concentration due to stress, so he does not always notice road signs or does not see the traffic light signal.

When dazzled by the sun

It is desirable to use properly the visor located in front of the windshield. This interior detail also in all cars rotates, covering the eyes from glare from the side.

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Under the influence of other weather phenomena

A sudden snowfall can be accompanied by a blizzard. Snowflakes stay in the air longer than raindrops, so they can create visibility barriers. This increases the risk of accidents on highways.

The use of chemicals that break up snow on the road leads to the formation of mud. From under the wheels it flies to the windshield in the form of an aggressive slurry. In the evening such situations create difficulties for motorists.

Twilight period of the day affects the attention span. The driver’s reaction slows down as his eyes readjust to the new surroundings.

How poor visibility differs from limited visibility

To behave correctly on the road and obey the traffic rules, every driver must know what the term “limited visibility” used by all means according to the rules. This not only improves knowledge of the law, but also increases the safety of motorists.

Limited visibility according to the current traffic regulations for the driver is manifested in the limitation of the field of vision by the surrounding landscape, buildings, vegetation, road curves. In fact, such visibility does not depend on the current time. A driver has to keep to recommended speed limit on such road sections. In addition there are prohibitions on turning or overtaking manoeuvres when driving.

There is no difference in visibility in terms of season or time of day, which distinguishes it from other concepts. It is additionally worth considering the obligations imposed on drivers outside of the city. To increase visibility, which can be insufficient even in the daytime in cloudy weather, all are required to turn on dipped beam or running lights than seek to reduce the accident rate.

Ways to increase visibility

The limited visibility is not rigidly regulated by the rules. The driver is given some freedom of action. It is important to correctly use the auxiliary devices available in the car.

Well-adjusted dipped beam and switched on fog lights help to increase visibility. In addition, it is recommended to include back fog lights to improve visibility. Speed mode should be chosen optimum-minimum.

Ways to increase visibility

It is not necessary to reduce the distance between the cars, as it not only affects the safety, but also on visibility. If you have to stop, be sure to move out of the way, and when getting out of the car, you need to wear a vest with reflective elements.

In the car, turn on the front window blower so that condensation is not created. The outside surface should be treated with rubber wiper blades. Adhering to the correct speed limit, it is necessary to keep to the middle of the lane.


When visibility or visibility is poor, the driver should make every effort to ensure the safety of passengers and other road users. You should not relax, overtake cars, move in reverse. It is important to be prepared for any surprises along the way.

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