What are Headlight Safety Tips to Help Drivers Avoid Accidents?

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Winter has arrived on the East Coast, and the days are shorter. That means drivers will spend more time navigating roadways in the dark. Because visibility is reduced and the glare from oncoming vehicles can be blinding, even the most experienced driver can find nighttime driving a bit difficult.

According to the National Safety Council, the risk of a fatal car accident is three times greater at night than during daylight hours. That sobering statistic should give every driver pause before hitting the road in the evening. Fortunately, there are steps one can take to make driving in the dark safer. For those who are involved in an accident, an experienced car accident lawyer can provide valuable assistance.

Why is Driving at Night Dangerous?

Fatal motor vehicle accidents are statistically more likely to happen on a Saturday night than any other time of the week. What makes weekend evenings so dangerous for driving? The following are some reasons.

Vision decline due to age. As people age, vision declines and conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma increase, making it harder for seniors to see at night. The Institute on Aging recommends people 65 and older wear glasses or contact lenses as needed and see their eye doctor at least once a year.

Impaired drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports drivers involved in fatal nighttime crashes were almost four times more likely to be under the influence of alcohol than those involved in daytime accidents. Anyone consuming alcohol and/or illegal drugs and even certain prescription and over-the counter medicines should never get behind the wheel. A designated driver or a ride-share service can be used, or the person can stay home to avoid having a tragic accident.

Drowsy drivers. One-third of adult drivers say they have fallen asleep while driving at some point. That statistic is alarming, considering it only takes two to three seconds for a driver who is not paying attention to lose control and cause a deadly crash. It goes without saying drivers are more likely to be fatigued at the end of the day, especially those who drive for a living, such as delivery drivers and long-haul truckers. Drifting out of the lane, frequent yawning, and trouble keeping eyes open are all signs it is time to pull over and get some rest.

Construction zones. Construction zones are inherently dangerous. Changing traffic patterns, large vehicles entering and exiting work zones, and workers along roadways all pose a risk to oncoming drivers. At night, construction hazards are even harder to see. Slowing down when driving at night and using a GPS navigation tool that alerts for accidents, construction, and other hazards both help prevent deadly accidents.

Poor visibility. Reduced visibility is a factor for every nighttime driver. Simply put, people cannot see as far at night as they can during the day. That means less time and distance to stop and react in time to avoid any of the nighttime driving hazards mentioned above.

Consistent and effective headlight use is crucial to increase visibility not only for the driver, but also for those traveling around them. Headlights make vehicles visible to oncoming drivers, animals, and pedestrians. Without them, vehicles are virtually invisible until it is too late.

Headlight Safety Guide

Keep headlights clean and bright. To ensure headlights are working their best, drivers should remove dirt, grime, and dead insects frequently. One suggestion is to clean the headlights with every windshield cleaning. Drivers should replace dull, cracked, or burnt-out bulbs immediately. Headlights should be aimed straight ahead and always pointed in the same direction.

Use automatic headlight settings. Most newer cars come with automatic headlight settings that take the guesswork out of knowing when to turn on lights. This way, drivers never get caught in the dark without their headlights. Automatic headlight kits are available to install on cars and trucks that do not come with this feature as standard.

Drive the appropriate speed. It is important to drive the right speed for the amount of distance that is luminated by headlights. That distance varies depending on the type of headlights installed. For example, most newer vehicles come with halogen lamps that illuminate non-reflective objects up to 300 feet away. Drivers operating vehicles with halogen lights can drive up to 39 miles per hour and safely stop in time to avoid an object in the road.

Consider installing LED lights. Some drivers are opting for light-emitting diode (LED) headlights because they illuminate 28 percent greater distance than halogen headlights. With increased visibility, the driver is able to travel at a speed of 48 to 55 miles per hour with enough stopping time and distance to avoid a hazard. LED headlights have other benefits as well, such as the following:

  • They are energy efficient.
  • They do not cause a glare for other drivers.
  • Drivers can dim them as needed to reduce output.
  • They last longer than other types of headlights.
  • They come in many different sizes and shapes.

Turn on headlights in bad weather. Rain, snow, and fog reduce a driver’s ability to see the road ahead. Turning on headlights in bad weather not only improves visibility for their driver, but also makes vehicles easier for other drivers to see. In fact, Maryland state law requires drivers to use headlights and whenever the driver cannot see at least 1000 feet ahead, and any time windshield wipers are in use.

Use high beams with caution. High beams are an essential part of every vehicle’s lighting system. However, they can be dangerous to oncoming traffic if used inappropriately. Generally, high beams can project around 300 to 500 feet ahead. However, those powerful beams of light can blind drivers coming toward them. Looking directly at high beams is like looking into a flashlight. Although the intense circle of light is visible, it is hard to make out everything around it. Drivers can also be blinded by the high beams of the car behind them reflected in rear-view mirrors and side-view mirrors. Drivers should use the following guidelines to use high beams safety:

  • Use only on dark roads with no traffic for up to 500 feet.
  • Revert to low beams as soon as cars are visible.
  • Do not use high beams in rain, fog, or snow.

It is normal to be frustrated by approaching or following drivers who use their high beams without concern. However, it is never a good idea to engage these drivers by beeping the horn or flashing headlights. Some drivers short on patience may perceive the gesture as aggressive, potentially causing a road-rage encounter. Instead, the driver should focus their eyes on the far-right shoulder of the road until the vehicle with high beams on safely passes.

How Should I Handle a Nighttime Car Accident?

After any type of motor vehicle accident, calling 911 should always be the first step of a driver. If possible, the driver should visually assess the scene for injuries to anyone involved. It is important to avoid moving anyone who may be hurt and wait for police and EMTs arrive. Individuals with obvious serious injuries should get emergency medical treatment. Others should see a doctor in a timely manner after leaving the accident scene. Some delayed injuries such as sprains, strains, and organ damage are not always immediately apparent.

All car accidents should be reported to the insurance companies. When one driver is obviously at fault, their insurance company may propose a financial settlement to anyone who was hurt. However, those settlements are not always enough to cover all the financial losses resulting from an accident, including the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering

For that reason, injured accident victims should make an appointment to discuss their case with an experienced car accident lawyer before accepting any insurance settlement. A lawyer can review the facts of the case and recommend the best legal course of action to recover the most financial compensation possible.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Victims Injured in All Types of Accidents

When someone is injured in a car accident, a one-size-fits-all approach to the case just does not work. When a client chooses the experienced Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, they get a team of skilled personal injury lawyers exploring every angle of the case to build the victim’s claim and offer the best changes of a positive outcome. We are proud to advocate for the rights of clients whose lives have been changed by tragic accidents. To schedule a free consultation, call 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.