Monday, May 10, 2010

Why drive with car lights on during the day?

Well, I think that here in South Africa, anyway, it is illegal for motorcyclists to ride their motocyles without their lights (light?) on. This makes sense - they're much smaller on the roads than cars, and being more visible on motorbikes is safer for both motorcylists and drivers of cars.

Drivers of cars, on the other hand, don't have to drive with their lights on, unless they really need to because they simply can't see well enough due to it being dark (because it's night or there's heavy rainfall) or due to there being a lot of fog or mist, or dust flying about on a dry dirt road.

Many cars do have their lights on, though, even on sunny days. This makes them more visible to other motorists, and what with the rate of car accidents in South Africa obviously needing to be reduced, why not? When you're in a crazy rush, but still trying to drive carefully, you may still be stressed enough not to notice that car speeding up because it's a similar colour to the road, or the sun might be in your eyes.

The above was pretty much explained by me to my 12 year old son the other morning in the car (I was driving) on the way to school. Along the highway, he asked: "Mom, it's sunny so why do just about all those cars have their lights on?" (the cars that were approaching us, travelling in the opposite direction, on the other side of the highway.)

I answered, while squinting against the very bright sunlight in my face, "Well, the sun is in my eyes right now, and it's bugging me, so I'm trying to concentrate on only the road directly in front of me. Now should one of those other cars on the other side of the highway have some kind of an accident and come careening towards us, there's a chance I might not notice, against this glare, and we'll have a bad accident. However, if their lights are on, even though the sun is also shining in my eyes, I am more likely to notice this sudden approach of lights coming at us from the other side of the road, and possibly have time to react."

© copyright Teresa Schultz 2010

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