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Notes From The Road

Light Roads Ahead - Smart Headlamps Could Reduce Fatalities
By Cathy Nikkel/

These intelligent lighting systems are available under various brand names in the 2005 Acura RL, Audi A4, BMW X3, Infiniti M, Land Rover Discovery, Lexus LS 430 and RX 330, MINI Cooper, Porsche Cayenne and Volvo S40 and V50. In Europe, adaptive headlights may be mandated for all models in 2007 as part of the region's pedestrian protection regulations. If you are going to rely on standard headlights for the time being, the Motor Vehicle Lighting Council offers these tips for nighttime driving.

Night Driving Tips
Use your lights courteously: When on the road, turn your headlights on one hour before sunset to make it easier for other drivers to see you in twilight, and keep your headlights on at least one hour after sunrise. In fog, use only your low beam headlights; high beams reduce your own ability to see and may temporarily blind other drivers. If your vehicle is equipped with fog lamps, use them with your low beams only when there is fog or inclement weather.

Avoid glare: Instead of looking at oncoming headlights, look toward the right side of the road and watch the white line marking the outside edge of the traffic lane. When headlights from vehicles following you reflect in your rearview mirror, use the "day-night" feature on the mirror (if equipped) or adjust your mirror to cut out as much of the light as possible.

Adjust your vehicle's interior lighting: If streetlights cause a lot of glare, dim your dashboard lights and use your sun visor. Avoid using any other light inside your vehicle.

Keep all windows and headlights clean: Dirty windows can increase glare, making it more difficult to see, while dirty headlights can reduce efficiency by as much as 90 percent. Be sure to clean the inside and outside of your windshield as well as your headlights.

Increase your following distance: Increasing your distance by four to five seconds can make it easier to spot potential problems on and along the roadway and give you more time to respond. In addition, proper lighting will enable you to react quicker and stop at a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.

Use vehicle mirrors to your advantage: Exterior mirrors that are properly aligned not only reduce blind spots, they also reduce glare from vehicles behind you. The outside rearview mirrors should be adjusted so that the bodywork of the vehicle is just outside of the driver's view.

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