What To Do If Your Headlights FailDecember 10, 2010 | in Defensive Driving Online
First off, when should you be using your headlights? Law requires that you have your headlights on from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise. However, you may be required to use your headlights at other times as well. If visibility is less than 1,000 feet or if you are using your windshield wipers due to rain or snow, then you should also have your headlights on.
Second, if you’re driving and another driver flashes his high beams at you, it could mean that you’ve forgotten your headlights. Check to make sure that they’re working! You should be able to see their light on the road in front of you.
On well-lit urban roads, headlights serve more to make your car visible to others than to illuminate the road. However, your headlights are essential for visibility on darker roads without much traffic. On a dark road like this, headlight failure can be terrifying!
If you do notice that your headlights are starting to look noticeably dimmer, try to go to the nearest service station to have them check out as soon as possible. Should headlight failure happen suddenly, follow these steps.
Don’t stop suddenly, particularly if there is traffic near you. If you have no visibility, slow down and, at a very slow speed, move onto the slow shoulder. You should be moving slowly enough to avoid hitting anything.
Then, try to determine the extent of the failure. Are your high beams out as well as your low beams? Sometimes, one system will work but not the other. While not ideal, you can use your high beams to get to a safe stopping point. See if your other electrical systems are working; if not, you’ve had a total electrical failure, in which case your engine will shut down, since the spark plugs will no longer be able to fire.
Quickly test the other lights in your car: interior lights, emergency flashers, turn signals, etc. Turning on these other lights should give you some visibility (and make your car visible to others). Carefully pull onto the shoulder of the highway. Note that if your emergency flashers or hazards and turn signals aren’t independent of one another, you may need to briefly turn of the hazards in order to indicate your turn clearly.
To read more on a broad range of subjects from “How To Change A Tire” to “How To Jumpstart Your Car”, visit DefensiveDriving.com’s Safe Driver Resources website!← The DefensiveDriving.com Holiday Special | Evaluating the Holiday Traffic Environment →