Let There Be Light – Part 1
Elevating visibility on roads
Lights? Of course we know it’s important! But do we really know how important it is, especially on roads? Simply put, it’s harm reducing and potentially lifesaving. It’s easy to take things for granted when we use it every day without thinking about it. For example your vehicle lights – when was the last time you actually thought about how important they are?. Some people underused them, while others tend to misuse them. Either way, all these contribute to factors affecting visibility on roads, which lead to increased probable harm to both vehicle users and pedestrians alike. For perspective, according to an in-depth accident study, 50% of daytime accidents occur as a result of drivers failing to see another road user (whether in time or at all). This boils down to the question of road visibility and how we can increase it to help save both our lives, and the lives of others.
Did you know?
BUT FIRST... A QUICK PITSTOP
Let’s take stock of how many types of vehicle lights there are... and do you think you can name them all? Fret not if you can’t! Here’s a quick refresher course! There are eight basic types of vehicle lights but today, let’s cover four first:
We’re all familiar with this one. Located at the front end of the vehicle, these lights allow us to see the road in the dark, while at the same time alerting motorists ahead of our presence.
Operating hand in hand with headlights, tail lights are also used in the dark, emitting red lights located at the rear end of the vehicle, to provide a sense of distance to motorists travelling behind you in the dark.
Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
Many new vehicles today come equipped with DRL. These lights play a massive role in increasing daytime visibility of your vehicle to other road users. They are located mostly in the front end of the vehicle, and are generally kept on during the day (though users have the option to keep them off).
As its name implies, these lights are used when driving through fog. Specially designed to prevent the refraction of light that will cause a distraction to the driver, fog lights are generally mounted on the lower body of the vehicle near the headlights, and are used when headlights are rendered ineffective in the blurring fog. In some countries, especially mostly European made cars, fog lights can also be found on the rear end of the vehicles.
NOW… LIGHT EM’ UP
Now that we’re up to speed with the different types of vehicle lights, let’s take a deeper look at how we can maximize conspicuous for you and your surrounding road users, to elevate road safety and reduce harm.
While it may be a common feature used by drivers on the daily, many unknowingly interchangeably use the low beam and high beam functions, which can be dangerous for both you as a driver and the road users around you.
How so? Utilizing high beam headlights can be blinding for oncoming vehicles, and should be used discerningly especially when driving through unlit stretches of roads, or when visibility is truly limited.
Meanwhile, low beam headlights / dipped headlights are ideal for normal nighttime driving but are also highly effective during the day, especially during adverse weather such as heavy downpours.
Did you know in Malaysia, it is compulsory for motorcyclists to keep their DRL turned on during the day?
Though not made compulsory by authorities for motorists, it is very much encouraged to increase visibility significantly.
Vehicles with DRL offer a clearer identification on roads, as users are able to better gauge distances in comparison to vehicles without DRL. Research also indicates that the use of DRL helps with the timely peripheral perception of vehicles making conflicting movements.
So, it’s better to stay “lit” than it is to be overlooked!.
With all that’s said on the importance of car lights, it’s also important to always stick with the original! In Malaysia, modifying vehicle lights is an illegal offense – and with good reason! Modified lights are designed to stand out with some varying in color and others brighter than they should be – posing a distraction and risk for other road users.