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GEM shines a light on winter road safety

 Published 27th January 2023
Driver Guides  General Guides 

Now the festive season is out of the way, we've just got the rest of the winter to get through before we can start soaking in the sunshine again. It's easy to forget that Christmas actually falls closer to the start of winter and there's still another few months to go before the days get noticeably longer. Which is why road safety organisation, GEM, has decided to remind everyone to use our lights and ensure we're as visible as possible during the darkest time of the year.

Daytime running lights and automatic lights are pretty much standard on most cars now. That doesn't mean you should solely rely on them though. There's no doubt that automatic lights are better than no lights at all, but they don't necessarily do the job in the depths of winter.

Too many drivers are failing to turn their lights on when visibility drops because of poor natural light or bad winter weather. The result of being too heavily reliant on the technology could be poor visibility both for you and for other road users struggling to see your car.

Daytime running lights are brilliant, but they aren't really powerful enough to properly illuminate the road ahead and will certainly not make you particularly visible to oncoming traffic and other road users, especially in foggy or wet conditions. What's more, you are likely to be displaying no rear lighting whatsoever. Not great for the cars following behind as the light level drops or the spray builds up.

GEM chief executive Neil Worth explains: “More and more cars now have automatic lighting arrangements. These, combined with front-only daytime running lights, mean it's easy to assume your lights are all taken care of without you needing to do anything. If your car is easy to spot, you will be doing your bit for road safety. That's why we are encouraging drivers to think about the lights they use and reduce their risk on winter journeys.”

Hence, the timely reminder to exercise all that driving experience - and a little common sense – and not rely on the automatic sensors to judge what lights are appropriate for your journey.

Tips for better road safety in winter

  • At this time of year, it makes sense to use dipped headlights at all times, day and night. Switching them on will also ensure your rear lights are on, so you'll be more conspicuous from front and rear.

  • Make regular checks of your main beams, indicators, sidelights, fog lights and brake lights.

  • Know where your fog light controls are located, so you can turn them on and off as conditions require.

  • Familiarise yourself with any automatic lighting systems on your car, but don't rely on them to provide the right level of lighting at all times and in all conditions.

  • Make sure you use lights in such a way that you and other road users gain the maximum benefit. After all, it's about being seen as much as being able to see.

  • Look out for other drivers who may not be using lights as effectively as they could.

  • On frosty or snowy days, don't forget to scrape clear your lights front and rear as well as your windscreens

On the bright side – no pun intended – the winter solstice is already behind us so we're definitely on our way to longer and warmer days. In the meantime, take a moment when you get in the car to make sure your lights are suitably illuminated before you start dreaming about sun-kissed beaches and cocktails on the terrace.

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