Using your lights thoughtfully.
Even if they are kept in good order, car exterior lamps can cause unintentional discomfort for road users. The following five tips may help you reduce the chances of this, which may also reduce the risk of an incident occurring.
- BRAKE LIGHTS: If stationary at traffic lights, especially, be aware that leaving your foot on the brake pedal will direct the outputs of three bright lamps into the retinas of the driver behind. Rain can make this situation worse, as the droplets reflect the light source and cause dazzle. We are aware, however, that certain start-stop systems will restart the engine only after the brake pedal is released. Clearly, the designers had not read the Highway Code; always apply the handbrake and take your foot off the brake pedal, when waiting in traffic.
- AUTOMATICS AND REVERSE LIGHTS: If you drive an automatic (or a single clutch automated manual, in particular) never select “Park”, when stopped momentarily on a main road. Although only briefly, the reverse lights will illuminate, which might cause the driver behind to think that you are about to reverse suddenly. Engage neutral, instead.
- DAYTIME RUNNING LAMPS: Should your car be fitted with DRLs, remember that they dazzle oncoming motorists, when used in conditions in which dipped headlights are more appropriate. Daytime running lights are, therefore, either deactivated, or dimmed automatically, when the main lamps are activated. Consider also that many models do not have their rear lamps illuminated, while the DRLs are activated. Additionally, illuminated dashboard dials do not mean that the appropriate exterior lights are activated, when they are needed.
- ILL-JUDGED LIGHTING UPGRADES: Never fit LED or HID upgrade bulbs to any exterior halogen lamps. Not only are they illegal to use on the road but headlight conversion bulbs (both HID and LED types) are more likely to dazzle oncoming motorists and render your car as unroadworthy. I shall blog more about this issue, soon.
- HEADLIGHT ALIGNMENT WHEN LOADED: If you must carry several passengers, or heavy luggage at night time, the headlight beam aim will rise as the rear suspension is compressed. Many cars have a manual control that will lower the beam again but do not forget to select the original setting, after the car is unloaded.