Tips for driving in smokey areas

Wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tenn. and other nearby areas have damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings and structures forcing thousands of residents and visitors in the area to be evacuated.

“Heavy smoke in the affected areas can also be dangerous for drivers,” said Cindy Antrican, a AAA spokeswoman.

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If you are planning to travel to the Gatlinburg area, AAA makes the following recommendations:

  • Contact your travel agent, hotel or property management office to ensure lodging is available.
  • Check local media for updates.
  • Check with local emergency management officials and adhere strictly to all evacuation orders.
  • Learn the recommended evacuation route.
  • Pack an emergency kit.
  • Let someone know your plans.

“Fog and smoke appear to play a major role in fatal multi-vehicle pileups, and are listed as a factor in nearly one-in-five crashes involving 10 or more vehicles,” Antrican said pointing to a AAA traffic safety report. “In addition fog-involved crashes resulted in more serious injuries than crashes in clear visibility conditions.”

According to the study, smoke- and fog-related fatal crashes are highest between midnight and 5:59 a.m. and 6 to 11:59 a.m. when the temperature is generally coolest and water vapors can condense into droplets – creating foggy conditions. These are times when visibility is generally already compromised due to poor lighting. Fog- and smoke-related crashes are greater in rural areas.