It's happened to all of us. We're driving down a highway at night and over a crest appears a car with its high beams blazing. You are momentarily blinded, hoping the other driver will switch them to their low beam setting and restore your vision.
Not only do we not appreciate being blinded, face it; we don’t want to be that other driver, either. You know, the one who forgets to turn down their high beams.
Why do we want high beams in the first place? They can improve safety when used correctly, giving drivers more reaction time since they can see farther down the road. But research has found many drivers either don't use them or, when they do, they frequently forget to switch to low beams. Enter the automatic high-beam dimmer.
The quest for the perfect one began back in the 1950s, General Motors invented something it called the "Autronic Eye." It was a phototube which sat on the dashboard and turned down your beams when it saw other headlights. While touted as being the biggest advance in night driving safety in 30 years, it didn't work all that well. But as technology got more advanced, systems improved.
Today's automatic high beam dimmers usually have a camera in the rear view mirror (pointing forward). When the camera sees lights, software in the system's computer attempts to determine the source of the light, whether it is an oncoming vehicle, taillights, ambient city lights, street lights or the reflection off of a street sign. It then adjusts the headlights to operate high beams if appropriate or a less-blinding mode if they’re not.
Some automakers are striving to make their headlight systems smarter and safer by developing lamps that can avoid blinding oncoming drivers by means other than simply dimming them. One idea? Splitting the beams so they will block just the portion that shines into the eyes of oncoming drivers.
It's a long way from the Autronic Eye.
31533 125 1/2 Street
PRINCETON, MN 55371
Night driving in PRINCETON is not as safe as daylight driving as evidenced by the increased accident rate at night. Much of that is simply because it's dark outside.
Visibility is important to safe driving. Ninety percent of our driving decisions are based on what we see. And at night, we just can't see as much as we can during the day. In fact, if you have 20/20 vision during the day, your night vision is only 20/50. To translate, that means that an object you can clearly see 50 feet away during daylight, only becomes visible to you at 20 feet at night.
Reaction time is also related to visibility. PRINCETON motorists don't react to a situation until they see it. So at night, we're reacting to situations later just because it takes longer to see them. But we don't have to stop driving at night to stay safe. We just need to practice some preventive maintenance and vehicle care that will maximize our night vision.
The most crucial item that helps us see while driving at night is, of course, our headlamps. PRINCETON drivers should ensure that their headlamps are as bright as they can be. Headlamps dim over time, but they do it so gradually that it's difficult to notice. Because of this, experts recommend replacing headlamps once a year.
That's good auto advice for PRINCETON drivers, but it doesn't apply to all headlamps. Some vehicles use HID, or high-intensity discharge, headlamps. These are bright headlamps that are designed to last for the entire life of a vehicle. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to upgrade to HID headlamps. Consult with your friendly service advisor at Affordable Transmissions to learn your options.
Most vehicles use standard or halogen headlamps. If you use standard headlamps, you might want to upgrade to halogen, which offers a brighter headlight. Halogen headlamps come in a variety of grades, so evaluate your options the next time you replace your headlamps and upgrade if you want a better light.
It won't do much good to upgrade or replace your headlamps, however, if your headlight lens is dirty or yellowed. Studies have shown that about 90% of the vehicles on the road have impaired headlights due to dirty or yellowed headlight covers. You should get into the habit of washing your headlights every time you gas up. Simply grab the window washer squeegee, run it over your windows, then swish it across your covers. No cost involved at all.
Plastic headlamp lenses yellow or become hazy over time. If your lenses have this problem, they can be restored with a special polishing process. You may be able to get this done at your PRINCETON service center. If not, they should be able to tell you where you can.
Now, what good is a quality headlamp if you can't see through your windshield? Your windshield needs to be clean and streak-free if you plan on driving at night in PRINCETON. You should also keep your windshield washer fluid replenished and your wipers in good condition.
Wiper blades should actually be replaced twice a year. The changing of the seasons at spring and fall, or Daylight Saving Time, can be a good reminder to do this. And while you're at it, fall is the perfect time to replace your headlamps. Those long winter nights add up to a lot more night driving for people in PRINCETON.
Stay alert. Stay awake. And keep those headlamps burning bright.
31533 125 1/2 Street
PRINCETON, MN 55371