While only 25 percent of driving is done when it’s dark outside, 50 percent of crashes occur when the sun is down. One of the culprits—your headlights.
Many drivers aren’t getting the most from their headlights, whether through improper use or falling short on maintenance, according to a survey from AAA. Here are three ways to help you keep an eye out for your headlights.
1. Use your high beams
Improving your nighttime visibility is as simple as flicking a switch—literally. High-beam settings on halogen headlights can improve your sight distance by 28 percent, according to the AAA study. Despite the added visibility that high-beams offer, particularly on unlit roads, a survey also found that only a third of Americans admit to using these settings regularly. When driving at night on an unlit road, AAA recommends you use high beams whenever possible—but never when there’s oncoming traffic.
2. Stay at a safe distance
Even with the high beams on, headlights may only provide enough light to safely stop at speeds of up to 48 mph in real-world conditions, leaving drivers vulnerable at highway speeds.
That’s partly a problem with automakers. The same AAA study compared the performance of halogen, HID and LED headlights. Halogen headlights, found in over 80 percent of vehicles on the road today, may fail to safely illuminate unlit roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph.
So put even more room between yourself and the cars in front of you, and drive at a safe speed.
3. Keep your headlights clean