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2.11.4 – Vehicle Factors

Headlights. At night your headlights will usually be the main source of light for you to see by and for others to see you. You cannot see nearly as much with your headlights as you see in the daytime. With low beams you can see ahead about 250 feet and with high beams about 350-500 feet. You must adjust your speed to keep your stopping distance within your sight distance. This means going slowly enough to be able to stop within the range of your headlights. Otherwise, by the time you see a hazard, you will not have time to stop.

Night driving can be more dangerous if you have problems with your headlights. Dirty headlights may give only half the light they should. This cuts down your ability to see and makes it harder for others to see you. Make sure your lights are clean and working. Headlights can be out of adjustment. If they do not point in the right direction, they will not give you a good view and can blind other drivers. Have a qualified person make sure they are adjusted properly.

Other Lights. In order for you to be seen easily, the following must be clean and working properly:

  • Reflectors.
  • Marker lights.
  • Clearance lights.
  • Taillights.
  • Identification lights.

Turn Signals and Brake Lights. At night your turn signals and brake lights are even more important for telling other drivers what you intend to do. Make sure you have clean, working turn signals and stop lights.

Windshield and Mirrors. It is more important at night than in the daytime to have a clean windshield and clean mirrors. Bright lights at night can cause dirt on your windshield or mirrors to create a glare of its own, blocking your view. Most people have experienced driving toward the sun just as it has risen or is about to set, and found that they can barely see through a windshield that seemed to look OK in the middle of the day. Clean your windshield on the inside and outside for safe driving at night.

2.11.5 – Night Driving Procedures

Pre-trip Procedures. Make sure you are rested and alert. If you are drowsy, sleep before you drive. Even a nap can save your life or the lives of others. If you wear eyeglasses, make sure they are clean and unscratched. Do not wear sunglasses at night. Do a complete pre-trip inspection of your vehicle. Check all lights and reflectors and clean those you can reach.

Avoid Blinding Others. Glare from your headlights can cause problems for drivers coming toward you. Headlights can also bother drivers going in the same direction you are, when your lights shine in their rearview mirrors. Dim your lights before they cause glare for other drivers. Dim your lights within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle and when following another vehicle within 500 feet.

Avoid Glare from Oncoming Vehicles. Do not look directly at lights of oncoming vehicles. Look slightly to the right at a right lane or edge marking, if available. If other drivers have their high beams on do not try to “get back at them” by putting your own high beams on. This increases glare for oncoming drivers and increases the chance of a crash.

Use High Beams When You Can. Some drivers make the mistake of always using low beams. This seriously cuts down on their ability to see ahead. Use high beams when it is safe and legal to do so. Use them when you are not within 500 feet of an approaching vehicle. Also, do not let the inside of your cab get too bright. This makes it harder to see outside. Keep the interior light off and adjust your instrument lights as low as you can to still be able to read the gauges.

If You Get Sleepy, Stop at the Nearest Safe Place. People often do not realize how close they are to falling asleep even when their eyelids are falling shut. If you can safely do so, look at yourself in a mirror. If you look sleepy or you just feel sleepy, stop driving. You are in a very dangerous condition. The only safe cure is to sleep.

Multiple-Choice Questions:

Question #117 (1 of 3)

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About how far can you see with your headlights at night?

  • With low beams, you can see ahead about 500 feet and with high beams about 650-800 feet.
  • With low beams, you can see ahead about 250 feet and with high beams about 350-500 feet.
  • With low beams, you can see ahead about 50 feet and with high beams about 75-100 feet.
  • With low beams, you can see ahead about 1,000 feet and with high beams about 1,250-1,500 feet.
With low beams, you can see ahead about 250 feet and with high beams about 350-500 feet. You must adjust your speed to keep your stopping distance within your sight distance. This means going slowly enough to stop within the range of your headlights. Otherwise, by the time you see a hazard, you will not have time to stop.
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Question #119 (2 of 3)

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What should you do if someone is coming at you with their high beams on?

  • Pull off on the side of the road until they pass
  • Blink your lights off and on as a signal to them
  • Tap your high beams to let them know you don't like it
  • Look slightly to the right at a right lane or edge marking

Avoid Glare from Oncoming Vehicles. Do not look directly at lights of oncoming vehicles. Look slightly to the right at a right lane or edge marking, if available. If other drivers have their high beams on do not try to “get back at them” by putting your own high beams on. This increases glare for oncoming drivers and increases the chance of a crash.

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Question #118 (3 of 3)

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When should you dim your headlights?

  • Within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle and when following another vehicle within 500 feet.
  • Mostly on snow-covered roads, but occasionally on dry roads
  • Anytime you suspect animals may cross the road ahead of you
  • When the road is narrow or has a lot of curves in it

Avoid Blinding Others. Glare from your headlights can cause problems for drivers coming toward you. Headlights can also bother drivers going in the same direction you are when your lights shine in their rearview mirrors. Dim your lights before they cause glare for other drivers. Dim your lights within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle and when following another vehicle within 500 feet.

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