You've probably noticed how much easier it is to see when you're driving in the daytime as opposed to at night. It's one of the main reasons about half of all fatal vehicle accidents happen when it's dark.
That's why it's important that your vehicle's headlights are in top condition and working the way they should. That means that they're aimed correctly and producing the amount of light they are intended to produce.
For many years, headlights were a standardized size and shape. They were what is called a "sealed beam," and when you needed to replace one, it was pretty simple. You just took the old one out and plugged a new one in.
But now there are hundreds of different types of lighting systems on vehicles, producing light with such illuminating technology as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), halogen bulbs, high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs and more. Some vehicles have systems that turn your lights in the direction you turn your steering wheel so you can more clearly see where you are going.
Now that it's not so simple to change headlamps or bulbs, it's wise to consult your service advisor. She or he can tell you what your options are. There may be ways you can upgrade your lighting with new headlamps or components, but it's important not to install new parts that could damage your vehicle. For example, the headlight housing could be damaged if a bulb burns too hot for its design.
It's also good to check regulations and laws where you live. Some regulate the color of light your headlamps can shine and how bright they can be. It's wise to leave it up to a technician to replace your headlamps. Some are tricky to get at, and modern engine compartments can be packed so tightly, it's hard to maneuver around all of the other engine components to reach the headlamp compartment.
Oh, one other thing to keep in mind. Even if your headlamps are both working, you might notice people are flashing their lights at you, even when you don't have the high beams on. That could mean your headlamps are aimed wrong; for the safety of the other drivers and yourself, have your technician check your headlamps' aim.
You'll see the light when you have good visibility at night.
Night driving in Urbana is not as safe as daylight driving as evidenced by the increased accident rate at night. Much of that is simply because it's dark outside.
Visibility is important to safe driving. Ninety percent of our driving decisions are based on what we see. And at night, we just can't see as much as we can during the day. In fact, if you have 20/20 vision during the day, your night vision is only 20/50. To translate, that means that an object you can clearly see 50 feet away during daylight, only becomes visible to you at 20 feet at night.
Reaction time is also related to visibility. Urbana motorists don't react to a situation until they see it. So at night, we're reacting to situations later just because it takes longer to see them. But we don't have to stop driving at night to stay safe. We just need to practice some preventive maintenance and vehicle care that will maximize our night vision.
The most crucial item that helps us see while driving at night is, of course, our headlamps. Urbana drivers should ensure that their headlamps are as bright as they can be. Headlamps dim over time, but they do it so gradually that it's difficult to notice. Because of this, experts recommend replacing headlamps once a year.
That's good auto advice for Urbana drivers, but it doesn't apply to all headlamps. Some vehicles use HID, or high-intensity discharge, headlamps. These are bright headlamps that are designed to last for the entire life of a vehicle. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to upgrade to HID headlamps. Consult with your friendly service advisor at PDR to learn your options.
Most vehicles use standard or halogen headlamps. If you use standard headlamps, you might want to upgrade to halogen, which offers a brighter headlight. Halogen headlamps come in a variety of grades, so evaluate your options the next time you replace your headlamps and upgrade if you want a better light.
It won't do much good to upgrade or replace your headlamps, however, if your headlight lens is dirty or yellowed. Studies have shown that about 90% of the vehicles on the road have impaired headlights due to dirty or yellowed headlight covers. You should get into the habit of washing your headlights every time you gas up. Simply grab the window washer squeegee, run it over your windows, then swish it across your covers. No cost involved at all.
Plastic headlamp lenses yellow or become hazy over time. If your lenses have this problem, they can be restored with a special polishing process. You may be able to get this done at your Urbana service center. If not, they should be able to tell you where you can.
Now, what good is a quality headlamp if you can't see through your windshield? Your windshield needs to be clean and streak-free if you plan on driving at night in Urbana. You should also keep your windshield washer fluid replenished and your wipers in good condition.
Wiper blades should actually be replaced twice a year. The changing of the seasons at spring and fall, or Daylight Saving Time, can be a good reminder to do this. And while you're at it, fall is the perfect time to replace your headlamps. Those long winter nights add up to a lot more night driving for people in Urbana.
Stay alert. Stay awake. And keep those headlamps burning bright.
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
There are a number of factors that contribute to the high nighttime accident rate in the Urbana area, things like drowsy driving and a higher rate of impaired driving. Without a doubt, visibility is a major contributor. Let's focus on visibility…
It's said that 90 percent of our driving decisions are based on what we see. Nighttime driving has the effect of reducing 20/20 vision to the equivalent of 20/50 vision. What you could clearly see at 50 feet in daylight can't be seen until you are just 20 feet away at night.
Too make sure your headlights are giving you the greatest visibility, visit us at PDR, located at 1008 N. Cunningham Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61802. Please give us a call to make an appointment: 217-367-9481.
Accident avoidance is dependent on reaction time. Reaction time deteriorates measurably in low light conditions. One thing we can do to improve visibility is to make sure our headlights are as bright as they can possibly be.
Headlamps dim over time. They dim so gradually that you may not notice it. Many experts suggest replacing your standard or halogen headlamps once a year.
If your vehicle has standard headlamps, consider upgrading to halogen lamps. They make a big difference. And there are upgrades available within the halogen category as well. This once-a-year expense is very modest compared to the safety benefits.
Some vehicles come with high intensity discharge – or HID – headlamps. These lamps should last for the life of your vehicle. They are very bright and are clearly the best option for nighttime driving. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to upgrade to HID headlamps. Talk with your Urbana area service advisor at PDR about options for your car.
Another startling fact is that 90 percent of vehicles on the road have dirty or yellowed headlight covers. Dirty is easy to fix. Just run the window washer over the headlight cover when you stop for gas. Get those bugs and dirt off the cover.
Now plastic headlight covers can yellow or become hazy over time. They can be restored to clarity with a special polishing process. Our pros at PDR can help you with this service.
It's also vital to keep your windshield clean and streak free when driving at night. Make sure you have plenty of washer fluid and that your windshield wipers are in good working order.
We recommend replacing wiper blades twice a year – in the spring and fall. Fall is also a good time to replace headlamps so you'll be ready for those long winter nights.
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Way too many accidents happen at night. There are a lot of factors, but a big one is simply visibility: if you can’t see something it’s hard to avoid hitting it.
There are some things you can do to make sure you can see as much as possible when you’re driving in the dark.
First, keep your windshield clean. Glare from oncoming headlights can obscure obstacles in the road. Clean off that film that builds up on the inside of your windshield. And make sure you have good wiper blades and plenty of washer fluid.
Now it could be that your headlights just aren’t as bright as they used to be. It happens – the bulbs just dim over time. If it’s been a couple of years since you replaced your headlamps and they aren’t lighting up the road like they used to, get some new ones. They make upgraded headlamps too that give you a brighter light and a larger field of vision so you can see better and further down the road. Check with your service advisor if you want to up your headlamp performance.
Another very common headlamp problem is cloudy or yellowed lenses. These days lenses are plastic and they oxidize and discolor over time. Just look at the cars in the parking lot – chances are you’ll see several with cloudy lenses. This is a huge problem because some of the light coming from your headlamps gets trapped before it can even get out and shine down the road.
Replacing a set of headlight assemblies can run hundreds or even thousands of dollars. There’s an alternative that will save you big bucks: Headlight restoration. Your service technician can remove the oxidized layer from your lenses. He’ll then polish the lenses until they’re bright and smooth. When he’s all finished, your lenses will be as good as new.
Any accident is inconvenient and can be expensive. And if someone gets hurt, well, that’s something you want to avoid at all costs. If you’re not confident driving at night, ask your service advisor about headlamp replacement and headlight restoration.
Give us a call
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802