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Car light safety facts

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Headlights and brake lights are commonly overlooked over time. With the decrease in light levels during nighttime driving, it’s necessary to ensure that all your car lighting works so that you can see other cars and others can see you. It’s not just the compliance but more importantly, the safety for which you should give your car a periodic walk-around to check for burned-out bulbs or broken taillights or for that matter any electrical malfunction. Headlamps turn yellow with age compromising the light quality produced. They too should be replaced periodically.

As we all know, oncoming bright lights impair nighttime vision from a few seconds to several minutes. When you keep your cabin dark, you protect your night vision. Whether or not illegal in your area, using your phone while driving is never a good idea. It too can affect your night vision – hard to believe but true. Also, use your instrument panel dimmer if your car has one, and if you have a navigation/media centre, make sure that it’s set to auto-dim after the sun sets. When approaching oncoming traffic, especially on narrow roads, focus your eyes on the white line on the right side of the road. This keeps you from staring into the oncoming lights and serves as a guide to keep your car in your lane.

Only Type-Approved lighting systems can be sold legally in the EU under the UN 1965 Vehicle Regulations. It is possible to purchase HID conversion kits, however, it is NOT legal to sell or use after market HID lighting kits, for converting conventional Halogen headlamps to HID Xenon. Only completely new Xenon HID headlamps are permitted, the reason being that the existing lens and reflector are designed around a Halogen filament bulb, working to very precise tolerances.

To ensure that others can spot you in the dark, utilize the auto-headlight feature if your car has one, so you don’t have to remember to turn them on and dim your high beams. If you need to halt at night, do so at a rest stop or gas station if available. Otherwise, pull off onto the shoulder as far as you can. Take advantage of street lamps and keep your car headlights on as well as running your hazard lights.

Higher intensity headlights offer better illumination during nighttime driving which potentially could be associated with casualty savings. However, the increased light intensity may also be associated with an increase in the ratio of headlight luminance to ambient light levels and a possible increase in the likelihood of glare. Glare can detract from optimal observation and hence vulnerable road users and other obstacles could be detected later or not even observed at all.

Research into LED headlights reveals that they contain more relative energy in the short-wavelength region of the visible spectrum and may provide a benefit over halogen and HID lamps. An LED forward lighting system can result in at least a 150ms decrease in reaction time over tungsten-halogen systems, though the amount of this visual benefit will depend on the spectral density of the LED. Reaction times to brake lights with neon and LED light sources are shorter than to incandescent bulb lights. Neon and LEDs are generally more efficient at generating light of the appropriate saturated red colour than filtered incandescent lamps.

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