October 21, 2016
Don’t get left in the dark this autumn! 0
The inescapable truth is that most of us are going to be doing a lot of driving in the dark over the next few months. Grim and gloomy commutes become part and parcel of life till we emerge into spring next April. That feels a long time off…
So, when you’re motoring in the dark, being able to see is fairly important. Around this time of year, it’s a good idea to check out your lights, and make sure everything is a shiny and bright and it should be.
Checking your beams
Regularly check that all your lights are working properly. Take time to check each light individually with a friend. Check your headlights, sidelights, fog lights, indicators, brake lights, reverse lights, hazard warning lights and don’t forget the often overlooked number plate lights.
Alternatively, if you’re alone, park near a reflective surface such as a garage door or even other cars. Illuminate all lights in sequence and watch for the reflections.
Using your lights
When you’re travelling on roads not lit by street lighting, visibility is limited to what your headlights can offer. When on dipped beam, this will give you around 45 metres, just about enough visibility range to emergency stop in a 50mph zone. It’s a thin margin, so watch your speed when driving on dipped beams.
When you’re driving in the dark, lights are how motorists learn of each other’s presence. Always remain watchful for approaching lights, especially when driving round corners. Adjust the position of your vehicle to take into account other motorists and dip your lights accordingly to avoid dazzling them.
If approaching drivers forget to dim their own lights, slow down and concentrate on the road surface so your eyes are given time to adjust. Staying on full beam yourself in retaliation simply places you in danger by dazzling other drivers.
Speed is hard to gauge in the dark so be extra careful when performing a manoeuvre and always allow traffic time to pass when waiting at a junction.
The weather will be the judge as to what lights you need to use. Use your fog lights only when you absolutely need them as they can ‘mask’ your brake lights – leaving drivers with minimal time to react. Switch them on only if your visibility drops below 100 metres. Leaving them on when there’s no fog is both dangerous and an offense.
A useful rule of thumb is to turn on dipped headlights during rain and poor light; basically, if you’re using your wipers – use your dipped headlights.