Light up your vehicle for safety, and live
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, November 4 2016
This simple act has become the norm in many European countries.
In fact, many imported vehicles from across the pond come equipped in this fashion.
When the headlights are noticed by others, including drivers, pedestrians, cyclists or any other people in the transportation system, they seem to appear closer.
Drivers are much less likely to pass on a two-lane road when they see headlights approaching, even though there may be ample space to do so.
Many drivers, for whatever reason, are reluctant to use their headlights all the time.
They prefer to have the front running lights do the job.
If this is the case, it is probably a good idea to use the parking-light setting, so as to insure those drivers behind are affected by the same sense of proximity.
Drivers have a tendency to allow more space when following a motor vehicle with the back lights illuminated.
Drivers of older models should manually put their headlights on. Prior to 1990, the vast majority of motor vehicles did not have instant-on front daytime-running headlights.
Today, it is easy to spot those older vehicles approaching without running lights, if you are looking for them.
But a strange thing happens to most drivers.
Psychologically, they have a tendency to ignore those very vehicles, and rather pay attention to the others that are illuminated.
In the 1970s, illuminated vehicles were few and far between and stood out dramatically.
Because the vast majority of approaching vehicles are now lit up, drivers have a tendency to ignore those that are not.
Many of the vehicles in this category are from south of the border. The legal requirement to have front running lights in the U.S. was not mandatory until just a few years ago.
Whenever a late-model vehicle approaches without the headlights in the on position, it is probably a safe bet to assume it may be a U.S. model.
It is even more important to use headlights during the day in the late fall and throughout the winter months, when daylight in the northern hemisphere is at a premium.
So many drivers simply forget to turn their lights on when it is getting dark.
This happens more often in the city than in the rural areas of our province. Street lighting does give us all a false sense of security — not so in the depths of rural darkness.
It is all right to flash the high beams in order to warn others that they have not turned on their vehicle lights.
It is best to only flash the high beams sparingly, so as to not blind oncoming traffic and put traffic from all directions in danger.
The four-way flashers can be used to draw attention to a disabled vehicle at the side of the road or a slow-moving loaded highway truck on a steep incline.
They can also be activated to warn of immediate danger, such as animals in the proximity or odd unspecified roadway circumstances.
Every driver should do a 360-degree check of all lighting systems on their vehicle on a regular basis.
Brake lights are often overlooked and should be checked as well.
High-beam lights are very important when driving at night.
They should be aimed to regulated heights.
Interior lights, dash lights, signals and on-board flashlights should all be checked, not only at this time of year but also at regular intervals.