Little light relief... or just being kept in the dark

13:54 12 August 2014

If you wonder whether you should have your lights on, you probably should.

If you wonder whether you should have your lights on, you probably should.

One of the best bits of advice I have ever heard about when to put your car lights on came from a traffic police officer.

As guest speaker at the advanced motorists’ group I belonged to someone asked him when you should put your lights on in cases of bad weather or when it was starting to get dark.

His answer was so simple that it has stuck with me and stood me in good stead.

“When you think to yourself ‘Should I have my lights on?’,” he replied.

Apparently our brain acts like a light sensor and triggers the thought. So when it does, put your lights on. It’s better to have them on and be seen than not being visible. In the days when I rode motorcycles I never switched my headlight off – in fact the switch became so stiff you could hardly turn it off!

I often drive cars with headlights than come on automatically but I sometimes find they have not come on when my brain is telling me they should be... so I put them on manually.

Last weekend in a downpour on a motorway I came across one driver who could have used some advice about putting their car lights on.

With so much spray, they thought visibility was reduced enough to put the bright red rear fog light on, and cut their speed to little more than 30mph, but having safely passed them I noticed they were driving on side lights... and only one at that!

According to the Highway Code, you must use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres – the length of a football pitch.


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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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