Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The art of using headlights

Ok, so I might come from a place where the daylight is limited to 6 hours in December. But then Stockholm have 18 hours of daylight in June and it never gets really dark.

Everyone is using their headlights anyway.

It's the law and actually all cars are set to have the lights turned on automatically (can you actually turn them off??).

Here you use your headlights on a more voluntarily basis it seems. And if you do turn them on in daylight, you might seem a bit... alien...

Ever since I got here I've wondered about this. Why would you NOT want to have you're headlights turned on? Because....? I really don't know.

There is no way to identify if a car is moving or parked - they both have their headlights turned off.

According to DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) this is how you should use your headlights in California:

Use Your Headlights
• When it is cloudy, raining, snowing, or foggy. If weather conditions require you to use your windshield wipers, you must turn on your headlights.
• On frosty mornings when other drivers’ windows may be icy or “fogged.”

• Any time you have trouble seeing other cars. Other drivers will be having trouble seeing you, too.
• On small country or mountain roads, even on sunny days. This helps other drivers see you and may help you avoid a head-on crash.

• When necessary to get another driver’s attention.

Ok. No words about lights at night (but I think I've read somewhere you're suppoused to turn them on 30 minutes before sunset and can turn them off 30 minutes after sunrise, but maybe that's just a rumor...).

The one time I'm not being the reserved Swede - I want to be seen and all lights on me!


Anne-Marie said...

Jag håller helt med dig. Något som jag också funderat över - har människor glömt att det finns "turn signals" i bilen? Tänk vad bra det vore om alla använde dem. En "lost art" verkar det som.

Anonymous said...

Har tänkt på precis samma sak vad gäller lyktorna. När vi köpte vår Volvo blev det precis som hemma igen, lyktorna kommer på automatiskt :) Aaah, lyktorna komma på automatiskt, sa vi lyriskt då vi kikade på bilen innan den köptes. Bilsäljaren verkade lite förvånad över den kommentaren, ingen amerikan höjer väl den egenskapen hos en bil till skyarna...

Annika said...

Håller med A-M om att folk så ofta helt struntar i att blinka när dem svänger, eller byter fil. Ibland känns det rent livsfarligt.
samma sak med vår volvo, lyktorna går på automatiskt. Nice.
I VA är det lag på att använda halvljus när det är regn och dimma.

Anonymous said...

Min Saab har ocksa "lights on all the time".
Har sett att manga nya och av den dyrare sorten har alltid lyserna pa har ocksa.
Sager man lyktor foresten?

Anonymous said...

Jag _hatar_ att det inte är lag på halvljus här! Det är alltid en massa folk som glömmer att slå på dem på kvällen, och ännu fler tillfällen på "dagen" när det vore otroligt bra ifall man såg om bilen rörde sig eller stod still! Min mini går det att ställa in så ljusen går på automatiskt, men på Toyotan måste man göra det manellt. Jag gör det. Varje gång!

Anonymous said...

It's not lagom in California to have your lights on during the day. There's really no need for it if one's eyesight is sufficient. Yes, in many places the thirty minutes rule is 'understood' but I cannot recall if it is the law.

When I first saw all the lights on cars here in Sweden, I realized the problem was that the street lamps where not as powerful here as in the USA and that might be the unspoken reason for having the lights on the car on. How about that?

JaCal said...

Despite sufficient eyesight it still is very practical to quickly determine if a car is moving or is parked, I'm sure that decreases accidents. I have never compared the street lamp effects (and half of the year you don't need them in Sweden), would be interesting to compare. I would still vote for headlights turned on - it couldn't make things worse - only better. ;-)

Anonymous said...

It is mandatory to use daytime running lights in all Scandinavian countries. The logic behind this is that all motorized vehicles while in motion are more noticeable when the head lights are lit during the day. Most EU countries and North America have also adopted these principles, but not necessary mandatory.

The question here is do the rear lights also have to be lit during the day? The reason I ask this is because many auto manufactures which automate this feature don't always illuminate the rear lights during the day. Our Lincolns come with this option as an energy saving feature and only use the hi-beam at 10 volts (no rear lights during the day).

My wife while showing one of Lincolns at the annual EU check-up (Sweden) was told she is breaking the law if the rear lights weren't lit during the day. Are we really breaking the law?

JaCal said...

I think you do, both head lights and rear lights have to be lit. I think you could get pulled over if your rear lights are not lit. But then, I'm no expert...

They have certain places here where they have "head lights on try outs", where you for a couple of miles have to turn on your lights. Not sure what they're testing.

And motorized vehicles are more noticeable with their headlights on. Something I've noticed here where they're not... you're never sure if a "parked" car might suddenly start moving or not...

Anonymous said...

I suspect you are correct in assuming the rear lights have to be lit during the day. Not because it’s the law, but because it’s so common to see most cars with their rear lights lit hence cars without will stand out. The Swedish law does permit parking lights to be turned off during the day. It doesn’t mention anything about daytime running lights specific (lights that only work during the day). Vehicle lights that can be used at night are required to illuminate the rear lights when in use (fog, warning and low/hi-beam lights).

The Swedish daytime running light law permits the use of parking lights when weather is good. In my opinion this is a flawed sense of safety as dusk situations could lead to more accidents due to the assumption vehicles are parked when they could be in motion. It’s easy to forget to switch from park to night lights if not automated.

I wonder what would happen if you drive around with your park light on during the day in another country?

Here’s an interesting article about "Varselljus i Europa från nyår (2002)".