Leave a light on for me: How drivers are endangering others on the road 37



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On a recent nighttime return from Burnie to Devonport (50 km on a four-lane, 110 kmh divided highway), I noted over 40 oncoming vehicles that had driving lights or fog lights illuminated with low beam. That was something like one vehicle in every four that I met on the night.

Please, people, this is illegal!

Driving lights are fitted, sometimes as OE or, frequently, aftermarket and used for safer driving in appropriate conditions such as long distance trips at night, especially in rural areas. It is a legal requirement for them to extinguish automatically when headlights are dipped from high beam to low. In this way, they are unable to cause glare to an oncoming driver (or to the driver of the car ahead when driving in the same direction).

Fog lights, also, may be OE or aftermarket. The light beam they emit is intended to provide improved capacity to see the road in adverse driving conditions such as fog or heavy mist. Fog lights are a common fitment to almost all cars nowadays. It is normal for these lights (front and rear, where fitted) to be separately switched so they can be operated independent of headlights.

(There is another type of forward facing light, an almost universal fitting now on passenger cars and light commercials, the daytime running light. Modern electronics control their use, allowing them to illuminate when the ignition is on and to extinguish when turning off the ignition, turning on the headlights, or to turn off the one on the same side as an operating turn signal.)

A quick check with your state’s road authority will confirm the illegality of operating driving or fog lights other than in the appropriate circumstances. Important details are readily available on this and other driving issues. How long since you read your state’s driving rules? Changes are always gazetted but it’s easy to miss them.

Personally, before enforcing any rule, I would like an interim period in which police stop drivers and offer a reminder, although that leads on to one final point. Before the constabulary is able to enforce the law, it has to be understood by them. In an area of overhead lighting on the night I mention, I was able to identify one of the cars coming towards me as a current model Camry with a rooftop light bar and reflective police decals all around…

I reckon road safety is an area in which over 60s might well take a lead. Don’t you?

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John Reid

  1. I try to be responsible and encourage others, particularly loved ones to read the road ahead so as to be prepared to act if needed without causing further mayhem. Drive with others in mind, share and care.

  2. I have been driving since I was 12 yrs old & being 68 yrs old have not had one accident By keeping to the speed limit & being able to defensively drive I have survived this long

    1 REPLY
    • You are very lucky, simple as that. No amount of defensive driving on your part will prevent someone else from skidding into your car, or shunting you up the rear.
      Keeping to the speed limit? So do I. But nobody can tell me they NEVER, ever, exceed the limit in some circumstances, however briefly.

  3. Another issue is it is unbelievable how many cars have only one headlight working or refuse to dim their lights to low beam when approaching…

    2 REPLY
    • Most headlights operate by way of globes of one sort or another, which can blow and go out at any time, without warning. No car is immune.
      No excuse for not dipping for oncoming traffic although in some cases mis-alignment of headlights is the real problem.

    • Some mornings i see the same car with only 1 headlight, they must know it has blown, just laziness

  4. Well done Michael, I was taught in England by an ex army driving instructor at 18 as that was the allowable age in those days. I’m now 80 with a blemish free record, oh have had a couple of tickets for just going over the limit, that so easily happens when cruising on the open road. Take the punishment and try to be more careful in future. So far so good not had one for over 7 years now.

    1 REPLY
    • Sorry to burst your bubble, David, but a ticket for going over the speed limit IS a blemish on your record. But congratulations on being accident free for 62 years, and ticket free for the last 7.

  5. Road safety is about four related issues; safe vehicles, safe drivers, safe speed and safe roads. This is a good example of the safe drivers issue and the idea of stopping people and reminding them is a good one. Temporary signage could also be used for reminder messages. Unfortunately most drivers don’t keep up with changes in road rules. That’s a very human thing to do so road safety strategies need to take into account that people pretty much behave like people.

  6. There is a lot of kangaroos where I live and people have powerful driving lights fitted but don’t dip them until they have just about burnt out your retinas. Grrrr!

  7. Im not sure if younger drivers are aware of dipping highbeam mabe its not on the L information they receive

  8. I also find it hard to distinguish cars like silver , gold ect on a country road chose the boring white for myself then everyone
    Watch out Here she comes

  9. much older people are also a big problem and cause lots of accidents.
    Treading on accelerator instead of brake.
    Putting car in reverse and then acceleration! Happens heaps. You hear about them backing fast over footpath into shops and banks an child care!!
    Slow reactions causing accidents.
    Uncertain of roundabout rules
    Forgetting to change to left lane if slower.
    Not putting headlights on after 4.
    Denial of poor driving habits!
    As a relative you MUST explain be strong to relative that time to stop driving.
    Can get RTA check drive. Or an an OT.
    How will u feel if grandpa kills someone?

    4 REPLY
    • Bruce a’Beckett
      I do speak with some knowledge on the matter having worked alongside geriatricians , rehab specialists and aged care personnel for decades.
      I am a grandma and as soon as I notice my driving isn’t as good as it once was I won’t drive anymore because I am aware of incidents and accidents.
      I also realize how it can be upsetting for a driver to give up their license, like my mum. We had to be kind but firm and take her keys as she had a few accidents and her reaction time was add slowing. She soon got used to being driven like miss daisy.
      My response is based on experience and having read medical articles on the subject.
      Perhaps you are feeling a bit threatened after my comments? Sorry about that.

  10. In WA this is not Against the law because the police found it to hard to enforce. The same as keeping to the left on freeways.

    2 REPLY
    • Sorry to disagree, Owen, but this is the law in WA, cut and posted from the Transport WA site: The driver of a vehicle fitted with a front or rear fog lamp shall not operate the
      front or the rear fog lamp unless the driver is driving in fog or other hazardous
      weather conditions causing reduced visibility.
      Points: 1 Modified penalty: 2 PU

    • John Read It might be a law but the Top cop on Radio interview said it is not enforced because it is to hard to enforce. I drive to work in the early morning and fog and driving lights are beyond a joke this is Bogan’s Ville with the law being to hard. Report your house being broken in to and see what response you get.

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