During the holiday season, it's all about the lights! Christmas lights. Lighting the menorah. Luminaries along the sidewalk. Candy Cane Lane and Christmas In The Adobes. The Holiday Boat Parade. But for now, let's talk about the lights on your car, truck, van, or motorcycle.
Headlights, tail lights, blinker and hazard lights, parking lights, dome lights and dashboard lights all have very important roles in your vehicle's lighting and safety system. Particularly during twilight conditions, at night and in poor weather conditions, lighting is a critical safety factor. For this reason, drivers should always make sure that their vehicle's lighting system is working properly.
The lighting system of a motor vehicle consists of lighting and signalling devices mounted or integrated to the front, sides, rear, and in some cases the top of the vehicle. The purpose of this system is to provide illumination for the driver to operate the vehicle safely after dark, to increase the conspicuity of the vehicle, and to display information about the vehicle's presence, position, size, direction of travel, and driver's intentions regarding direction and speed of travel.
Statistics shine a light on an important safety concern-visibility. More traffic accidents occur at night than during the day. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute recently released a study showing that approximately 2,300 pedestrians are killed in the U.S. annually because of drivers' inability to see at night.
Maintaining your car's headlights can be an important step in safer nighttime driving. To maintain your headlights, be sure they are:
Clean - Give them a quick scrub when you wash your windows at the gas station. Clean headlights can help you see better and can help prevent glare, which can be intensified by dust and dirt particles on the glass.
Aimed properly - Headlight aim can often be knocked out of position by driving off-road or over potholes, which may contribute to unsafe nighttime driving conditions. Next time you get your oil changed or are at the repair shop, ask the service person to check, and if necessary, adjust your headlights.
Free of road chips, condensation and surface scratches - These things decrease visibility and contribute to glare while driving.
"Proper headlight maintenance is critical to safer driving, especially during nighttime hours," said Dennis Holt, reliability & regulations manager, Sylvania Automotive Lighting. "Most people change their car's oil and rotate tires on a regular basis. We also encourage everyone to get in the habit of routinely maintaining their headlights."
The police can stop you for burned-out bulbs and give you a 'fix-it' ticket, whereby you have a certain amount of time to fix the light. Afterward, you must drive to the police station to prove you've fixed the light in order to have the ticket cleared (the police officer who issues the citation will explain exactly what you need to do). You'll still have to pay a processing fee of around $10 to $15, but you'll have to pay a much larger fine if you don't fix the light in time. It's easier just to replace the bulb as soon as you see it's burned out.