Headlight use reminder

  • Published
  • By James Hammonds
  • 30th Space Wing
In other parts of the U.S. the arrival of summertime means rising thermometers and clear, star-lit skies.

Along the central coast the arrival of summertime means more fog and denser fog. Are you prepared?

Most drivers know that it is much easier to see an approaching vehicle in inclement weather if it has its headlights on. A lot of us are lulled into complacency thinking that our latest Detroit (or Japanese or Korean or ...) mechanical masterpiece has "automatic" headlights, so we don't bother to flip the headlight switch. What you might not realize is that some automatic headlight sensors can be "fooled" in foggy conditions. In other vehicles the headlights might come on, but not the taillights. If you flip the switch they all come on.

Get in the habit, whether you have "automatic" lights or not, of manually switching your lights to "ON" in inclement weather such as fog, drizzle, mist, or any other conditions that reduce your vision. It's great that "the other guy" might have his/her lights burning brightly for you to see. You can distinguish him/her at greater distances and adjust your driving accordingly. However, if YOUR lights aren't on, "the other guy" might not be able to see YOU from afar, and might not drive accordingly.

Motorcyclists already start out at a disadvantage in inclement weather. They only have one headlight (in most cases) rather than two. The motorcycle's smaller mass might not be as apparent from a distance. If you're approaching a motorcycle from behind, their taillights are usually significantly smaller than those on most cars. They can disappear into the mists rather easily.

Motorcyclists -- make yourself as visible as possible to other drivers. Bright, reflective clothing is a good start. Pulsating or modulating lighting makes you even more visible.

CarĀ and truck drivers -- Think motorcycle! (Or bicycle!) Remind yourself to scan for those two-wheelers!

Lastly, remember to adapt your speed to the visibility conditions. You have to leave yourself enough room to "see" an obstacle, to have your brain "recognize" the obstacle and have time to "react" to what it sees, and time to take whatever "action" is necessary to "avoid" having the obstacle enter your world in an unfortunate manner.

Drive safely. Drive courteously. Drive defensively. Drive smartly.