It’s summer. That means longer hours of daylight for Rhode Island drivers. Nighttime driving still poses a risk, however, as more drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists travel Rhode Island roadways.
When it comes to driving at night, visibility is key. Adequate light is critical for identifying other road users such as motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. It can prevent crashes by making objects in the road or animals crossing the road more visible, and it can increase the time and distance a driver needs to react to an emergency.
How well do your headlights work?
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the majority of traffic fatalities occur at night. However, the risk could be mitigated simply by implementing headlight technology already found in Europe and Canada – adaptive driving beam headlights (ADB).
Research shows that this technology was able to increase roadway lighting by 86 percent, in contrast with the low beam headlights used in the United States.
AAA and other safety advocates fully support the idea of these adaptive driving beam headlights (ADB) being used in the US.
“The technology not only exists but is being used in other parts of the world to effectively provide the amount of light needed to keep drivers and pedestrians safer,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.
Prior research concluded that roughly 64 percent of Americans don’t regularly use high beams when driving at night – which AAA reports increases forward illumination by about 28 percent. This, in general, gives drivers less time to react to an emergency when driving at speeds of at least 40 mph.
According to Your Mechanic, drivers are prohibited from using high beams in Rhode Island under the following circumstances:
- During inclement weather conditions such as rain, snow, fog, or other conditions that inhibit visibility
- When approaching traffic within 500 feet
- When following another car within 200 feet
While ADB illuminates at the same level of standard high beams, the light is dimmed to low beam when another vehicle is detected in order to prevent extreme glare.
What you can do in the meantime
ADB technology may not be on the horizon in the US anytime soon and will require extensive research in order to measure its effectiveness on a variety of roadways.
In the meantime, AAA suggests drivers do the following:
- Use high beams whenever possible when driving at night on unlit roads. Doing so will help drivers perceive non-reflective objects in or around the roadway.
- Adjust and maintain a safe driving speed when traveling on unlit roads at night. This can allow drivers enough time to identify potential collision hazards and react to them.
- Have worn out headlamp lenses restored or replaced to improve nighttime visibility.