The bright red rear fog lamp was first developed in the early 1960s, won several national traffic safety awards including a German ADAC award in 1961, and has since the 1970s been compulsory equipment in Europe and everywhere else ECE lighting regulations are in force.
However, the rear fog lamp remains a novelty item in North America, where it is permitted but not required. There, its fitment is confined primarily to luxury European-brand cars and occasionally to mid-range models as a styling feature. Substantial areas of North America experience low-visibility conditions in which a properly-used rear fog lamp could make a material improvement in roadway safety and driving comfort, yet familiarity with the device and its proper use is practically nil amongst North American drivers, who tend to use the rear fog lamp when it is not needed, and don’t use it when it would be beneficial.
Practically speaking, there are three obstacles to the widespread installation and effective use of rear fog lamps in North America:
– An automatic switching system would have to be devised to illuminate the RFL in heavy fog, rain, or snow and switch it off in clear weather.
– Red rear turn signals would need to be disallowed, to alleviate the proliferation of red-light functions on the rear of the vehicle.
– American regulations would need to require the device, rather than merely permitting it.