It’s still dark and dull outside, and so driving conditions aren’t all that great. Being visible on the road is not just important, it’s a legal requirement. So are both of your car headlights working?
On 27 January we reported that, according to government figures, nearly half of MOT failures last year would have been avoidable had the vehicle owner carried out a few basic visual checks in advance. And of those checks, simple lighting faults accounted for one in five of these cases.
While headlight failures may seem like just a minor inconvenience for some, it’s an irritation of mine. And based on the evidence I’ve seen while driving lately, it’s a problem that seems to be frequently slipping through the net. So I think it’s time to shine a light on the issue.
Under the spotlight
Now, you’d probably notice if both your car headlights were out, especially if you drive at night. But only losing one headlight might pass you by. Well-lit streets can hide the effect from the driver. Some may even be aware, but don’t see the issue as serious enough to deal with it straight away.
But vehicles with only one working light will appear to be considerably smaller than they actually are when viewed head-on and in mirrors by other drivers – you can end up believing that you have a motorbike in your vicinity, when in fact it’s a full-sized car or van.
In some cases the one working light will itself be obscured, leading the driver to assume there are no other vehicles around them at all, which could have serious consequences when it comes to turning, braking and changing lanes.
Not to mention the issues that could arise from any unfortunate collisions. If a headlight being out was the cause of the accident, how could you prove that the faulty headlight was broken before impact?
The fact is that driving without working headlights is an MOT failure, and it’s a failure for a reason – when visibility is poor it’s fundamentally dangerous for other drivers as well as pedestrians.
Here’s a bright idea
Now changing a car bulb can be an easy task on some car models, and a little trickier for others. A replacement bulb will usually cost you less than £5, and you may have to pay a further £5 to £10 if you require someone to fit it for you. But, all in all, I think it’s a pretty fair price to pay, that far outweighs the risk of not being seen on the road.
The number of vehicles I’ve spotted lately with partially or fully blown headlights on one side has been quite alarming, and I find it hard to believe that this problem could be localised (south London, for those wondering).
So, have you checked your headlights recently? And, have you, like me, noticed an increase in cars with their headlights out? Why do you think this is?