Let There Be Light – Part 2

Elevating visibility on roads

Now that you have known the basic four types of vehicle lights in our previous article*, let’s cover the remaining four. Can you guess what the remaining four are?

Signal Lights

Found on the front, back and sides of cars (and for motorcycles, front and back), signals (a.k.a indicators / blinkers) when activated, are crucial to indicate to other road users that you are slowing down and about to make a turn.

Brake Lights

Brake lights indicate to drivers tailing you that you are slowing down or coming to a stop. These lights are only activated when the brakes are applied, and can be found on the side of your tail lights. There’s also a compulsory brake light indicator – the third brake light which is commonly located inside the vehicle by the back window of your vehicle (the location of the third brake light varies from vehicle to vehicle).

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).

Fog Lights

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.

Interior Lights

Commonly known as cabin lights, these lights are situated within the vehicle to help illuminate the cab for passengers and drivers in the dark, when needed to search for items or to check for directions.

(Tis’ true, leaving cabin lights on during a drive at night is a hazardous offence as the vision of oncoming vehicles can be distorted and cause accidents.)

With the focus of these four vehicle lights, let’s take a look at how we can further raise road safety and reduce harm.

The improper usage of hazard lights has been the culprit of many road mishaps. Contrary to popular belief, hazard lights should not be turned on during heavy downpours! It should only be used to notify road users around you that your car is stopped and is causing a temporary obstruction along the road as a result of a breakdown.

In other scenarios, hazard lights are also used to help warn others if there may be a hazard on the road up ahead; during a funeral procession; or when your car is being towed away.

Well, not much needs to be said about this except that it definitely needs to be used more often – especially in Malaysia! Indicating helps inform others of your position and your intended direction.

According to a technical paper published by SAE International in 2012, neglecting the use of indicators is one of the main causes of vehicle accidents with an estimated death toll of a whopping 2 million – surpassing distracted driving.

Suffice to say… indicate, before you regret it!

In Malaysia, one can be slapped with a hefty penalty of up to RM2,000 for having faulty third brake lights. But rules aside, third brake lights save lives.

A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US, found that third brake lights were able to minimize rear impacts by 4.3%. With distracted driving on the rise, a third brake light serves as an additional indicator to alert distracted drivers of a stopping vehicle ahead, and potentially help avoid irreversible harm.

As for non-motorists (motorcyclists, cyclists, joggers etc.), a reflective vest could help save your life and avoid devastating accidents.

Typically made of reflective material and fluorescent colours, reflective vests or jackets are designed to increase visibility by alerting motorists of your presence in their field of vision, be it rain or shine, day or night.

The added bonus to this economical investment? It’s so lightweight, you’ll forget you even had it on, yet it plays a profoundly heavyweight in saving your life!

Alternatively, motorcyclists may also opt to don a High Visibility Windbreaker (HVWB) which has been proven to increase conspicuity during the day by 16.9%, in comparison to those without HVWB.

Visibility can only be guaranteed if you buck up on proper vehicle headlight care.

It’s important to have your vehicles serviced in a timely and regular manner to ensure all key components are in tip top working shape. Because without it, all purpose is defeated.

Now, if there’s any key takeaway from reading this article and this* is that increasing visibility on the road to reduce harm isn’t all that difficult! We just need to remain vigilant and diligent (and patient!) to make our roads a little safer for ourselves and the rest of the nation.

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