It was easy to tell that the first day of fall came yesterday. All I had to do was check my e-mail inbox and count the bright ideas to remind everyone to remember to turn on their lights when driving in the darkness and poor weather conditions. It’s an important thought because your vehicle’s lights not only help you see, they help other road users to see you.
Bob tells me that he used to be a safety committee member in industry. His favourite mnemonic was KBL: Keys in the ignition, seat Belt on, Lights on. Having accomplished that, you were now ready to consider putting your vehicle in motion.
KBL was always the routine, regardless of whether it was day or night.
My Twitter account was well populated with messages about lights last year at this time. The reminders were for those of us whose vehicles did not have daytime running lights that turned on all the lights. Some drivers would see the headlight illumination and not remember that the back of their vehicle remained dark until they turned on all the lights themselves.
A nice convenience in some newer vehicles are lighting systems that turn all the lights on automatically when it is appropriate. Drivers no longer have to do it themselves, unless the light switch is turned to Off instead of Auto. The KBL routine would have you check to make sure the switch is set to Auto rather than turning the lights on.
I’ve already mentioned daytime running lights, so let’s revisit them while we’re speaking of lights. Is your vehicle model year 1990 or newer and equipped with licence plates from any province in Canada? If so, you are required to have daytime running lights that function correctly. Disconnecting the system should result in enforcement action.
Now that we have the lamps lit, there are other considerations for proper night vision. Are all the lenses clear, undamaged, not full of condensation and aimed properly? Opaque or yellowed headlight lenses or lenses coated with condensation don’t transmit the light that you need to see with properly and blind other drivers with glare.
Future vehicle safety ratings will begin to measure headlight effectiveness. Until then, beware what you spend your money on if you are considering a lighting upgrade on your own. Illegal products abound on store shelves or sold over the internet. Some of the legal choices are not what they seem either. Osram Sylvania was the subject of a class action lawsuit in the US over their Silver Star headlight bulbs. The suit alleged that the company rigged the comparison with standard bulbs to influence consumers.
If you do choose to equip your vehicle with extra lights that are not street legal, remember that they fall into the category of Off Road Lights as defined in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations. All off road lights must be covered with opaque covers whenever the vehicle is being used on the highway.
Let’s wind up with cleanliness. Dirty lights, front or rear, can’t do their job properly. Some paper towel and a spray bottle containing windshield washer fluid could be a wise addition to your winter driving kit along with a spare bulb or two.
To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca.
Constable Tim Schewe (Retired)
DriveSmartBC: Where better than average drivers satisfy their curiosity.