For Pete’s sake…turn your lights on!
For the decades I’ve spent in road safety, I try to shed some light on many topics to help people become better drivers. Sometimes, drivers need to shed some light with their vehicles. For the past few years, I’ve noticed more and more vehicles on the road while it’s dark outside with low wattage headlights turned on and no tail lights turned on. For the most part, these drivers are unaware they are creating issues.
There are many jurisdictions that require new vehicles to be equipped with Automatic Daytime Running Lights (DRL). These are headlights that automatically come on once the engine has been started. A number of studies have been done since the 1970’s which have shown that having headlights on during daylight hours have improved road safety. These lights attract the attention of other road users so they are less likely to come into the path of the vehicle. However, DRL’s are not necessarily the best set of lights to use.
To the average driver who has a vehicle equipped with DRL’s they may just start the engine and be on their way. However, as the day progresses into darkness, these DRL’s become a danger to that driver and those around them. DRL’s on many makes of vehicles do not put on the rear lights. This means it’s more difficult for drivers approaching from behind to notice that vehicle at an appropriate time.
The added problem we’re facing now is when drivers use the “auto” with their headlights. In many vehicles “auto” means their regular headlights will come on when the vehicle is started and go off when the engine has been turned off. The only problem with this is the tail lights are not on. I recently followed behind a driver in my community who didn’t have their tail lights on during a dark night but their full headlight system was on. Once they parked their vehicle I mentioned to them they didn’t have their full lighting system on. They replied “It’s okay, I have them on auto.” First of all, it’s not “okay”. I had to show them how this was not a good practice since without having rear lights on at night, it can become risky for both them and vehicles approaching them from behind. They were a little surprised the “auto” wasn’t a full lighting system. Is your “auto” a full lighting system? Not all vehicles are. Better turn them on and find out for certain.
The best thing we can do as drivers is to manually turn on your low beam headlights. This will ensure you have tail lights on and headlight beams bright enough to attract the attention of other road users; day or night. Driving a gray, white or silver vehicle in daylight hours – vehicles whose colour can blend into the background – can become difficult to spot for pedestrians and other drivers pulling into the flow of traffic. Having headlights on in the daylight is similar to why school crossing guards where florescent vests; to be easily spotted in daylight hours. Do yourself and all the other road users a favour, turn your full lighting system on. You’ll see what I mean…and others will see you too.
****More about high beam headlights can be found HERE
**More about headlights in fog can be found HERE