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Make sure you're seen

By Western Gazette - North Dorset  |  Posted: October 25, 2012

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Every day, tens of thousands of people take to the road with defective lights. Badly lit and even unlit cars, motorcycles and of course cycles, are a common sight but how confident are we that our own vehicle is properly lit up?

Common examples of badly lit vehicles include:

■ The Night Rider

Usually to be found in well-lit urban areas, night riders think they can see clearly and assume that other road users can see them. They're often unaware that they haven't switched on their lights, until stopped by the police, or when hit by another vehicle.

■ Cyclops

Almost as dangerous as cars with no lights are cars with only one working headlamp or tail lamp. The driver's road vision is reduced by about half and other road users get a false impression of the width of the vehicle.

■ The Bright Spark

The bright spark believes in using all their lights - all the time. The problem is that the dazzle caused by too much light can be almost as dangerous to other road users as an unlit vehicle.

■ The Foggy Thinker

In some situations, the foggy thinker may have forgotten that their fog lamps are still on after a previous journey or during patchy fog.

■ Loaded

Motorists often forget to adjust their lighting according to what's in their vehicle. A fully laden car with the holiday luggage inevitably causes headlight beams to point higher, potentially dazzling on-coming traffic.

■ Cross Eyed and Confused?

Poor or infrequent maintenance may result in mis-aligned lights. These should be checked regularly, either by the old-fashioned method of shining them against a brick wall, or on a regular basis as part of a service and not just once a year during the annual MoT.

The RAC Foundation's lighting fact file shows that October and November generally have the highest road traffic casualty figures in the year and of 7.3 million cars which failed the MoT test 16 per cent had lighting faults; 10 per cent of motorcycles failed on lighting grounds. A weekly check of all lights is important, particularly when the nights and mornings are getting darker. Replacing a bulb is usually straightforward, or get your local garage to carry out the work for you. It could save a life.

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