Don’t be Dim this Winter

Being able to see the road ahead to avoid danger and stop safely in an emergency is a necessity for all drivers, especially when driving in the hours of darkness.With winter looming, the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) offers the following tips on how to check and use vehicle lights in preparation for the short and dark days to come.

Check the lights
  • Regularly check that all lights work. While someone observes the lights around the car, switch on each light one-by-one: headlights, sidelights, fog lights, indicators, brake lights, reverse lights, hazard warning lights and number plate lights.
  • If alone, park by a reflective surface such as a garage door, illuminate all lights in sequence and look for the reflections.
Use the lights
  • When away from street lighting, visibility is limited to the range of the head lights.  This varies greatly between dipped and full-beam; slow down when driving on dipped head lights.
  • Lights give motorists an early warning of each other’s presence.  Look for approaching lights when driving around corners, adjust the position of the vehicle accordingly and dip your own headlights to avoid dazzling other motorists.
  • If oncoming drivers forget to dip their lights, slow down and give your eyes time to adjust to avoid blindness. Never stay on full-beam to retaliate.
  • It is difficult to judge approaching speed in the dark so take extra care when making a manoeuvre and always allow traffic to pass when waiting to pull out at a junction.
  • The weather will also dictate when to use headlights and fog lights. Use fog lights sparingly; switch them on only when visibility is below 100 metres. Leaving them on after fog has disappeared is an offence and a danger to other motorists.
  • A general good rule of thumb is to switch on dipped headlights during heavy rain and poor light.
  • Never use lights to dazzle or cause discomfort to other road users – this is against the law.
1 October 2008 Staff

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