A vehicle’s headlights are one of the most important items in your vehicle, and yet it’s often one of the most overlooked items. Your ability to see and be seen clearly at night is all due to your headlights.
Headlights have improved over the years to help with seeing at night. The introduction of light-emitting diode headlights – better known as LED – have improved night driving dramatically. Making them shine brighter and more clearly to help identify items on the road. Most of the older vehicles have a halogen headlight, which is dimmer in comparison.
So let’s talk about some of the things that can diminish the brightness of your headlights. The first one is probably the most common. Some light covers will tarnish and get a film over it causing the light to dim, thus not allowing the clarity needed when using them. It’s easy to tell because your light cover will look yellowish and cloudy when you look at them. If you see problems like that you might want to change them out or get them cleaned professionally.
Another issue that happens to headlights is having them move out of alignment. This can happen due to loose bolts or just movement from being bounced around when driving on the roads. You should check your alignment at least once a year. Sometimes you may see one light shining way above the road or lighting up the ground just in front of you.
A vehicle needs to have at least two headlights to the front of the vehicle and at the outer edges of the vehicle. Also placement cannot be lower than 24 inches or higher than 54 inches from the ground to the center of the headlamp.
When a car is coming in the opposite direction at night it can be a little blinding. A great tip to help you be able to follow the road is to use the fog line, the white stripe on the right side of your lane. Use that as a guide to let you know you are still in your lane. You won’t blind yourself, and won’t worry about drifting off the roadway.
So while we are talking about blinding other drivers, let’s discuss when to turn off those brights. When you have oncoming vehicles on the roadway, you are required to dim your lights before you are within 500 feet of the other car. When you are behind another car and you are both going the same direction, you are required to dim your lights before you are within 200 feet.
State law dictates that if the situation makes it to where you can’t see for at least 1,000 feet you need to have your headlights on. This could be anything from darkness or storms – anything that diminishes your view. Now, a lot of vehicles have automatic lights that turn on when you get into those situations, but if you don’t have that option, make sure you turn them on. If you do have that option, check to make sure they are turning on when they are supposed to come on. In Colorado, you are required to have your lights on within 30 minutes of sunset and no sooner than 30 minutes before sunrise.
As always, safe travels!
Trooper Tips prints occasionally in The Journal. Contact Trooper Gary Cutler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-670-7403.