Dangerous beams

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As we are discussing traffic management, we also find it pertinent to look deeper into the level of awareness among our drivers on traffic dos and don’ts, driving regulations including the rules of night driving. We do not know whether the state Transport department and the Traffic police understand that public awareness is also one of the important focus areas in traffic management. We recently saw the efforts of the traffic police to educate drivers on the traffic lights at intersections which are not functioning now. Now 5 to 10 traffic police personnel are on duty at the busy intersections which was done by a traffic policeman years ago. Yes, the number of vehicles and traffic has increased in leaps and bounds in recent times and it has reached unmanageable proportions. A scientific solution has become necessary by drawing in lessons on traffic from major metropolitan cities. But today we want to discuss about the level of awareness on traffic regulations among the new drivers and their education. Quizzing new applicants for driving licenses on traffic knowledge before issue of license by the Transport offices could be very useful. Secondly, distribution of leaflets containing traffic regulations at road intersections would be very informative to both old and new drivers. Our focus today is on night driving. Our drivers with the exception of long distance truckers and bus drivers simply do not understand the rules of night driving and it is one of the major causes of road accidents. It is specially dangerous during blackouts. The lights on a car have two purposes: they help you see at night and they help other road users see you. One does not have to wait for the night time to turn on the car or two wheeler lights or for that matter until the street lights come on. If light levels dip, whatever time of day, then it is necessary to turn on lights. It is certainly wise to have lights on as dusk approaches.

The vehicle headlights have two setting: dip and full beam. When driving at night on lit roads one should have the headlights switched to dip. A standard set of headlights provides about 30 metres of visibility when dipped and about 100 metres when on full beam. In urban areas in every country, drivers are always advised to use dipped headlights. This has to be grilled into the heads of our drivers. When driving at night in built-up areas pedestrians can be incredibly difficult to see, so the drivers need to approach pedestrian crossings with caution. Horns are not normally used in cities. Instead, repeated switching from dip to full beam is used to warn other road users. When driving on unlit roads and when no other traffic can be seen ahead, one could turn the headlights on full beam. When one sees a vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist approaching he or she must turn the headlights to dip. The Highway Code states that one should not use any lights in a way that would dazzle or cause discomfort to other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. One of the biggest night time hazards is dazzle, caused by the light from on-coming headlights. For newly qualified drivers, driving at night for the first few times can be a shock to the system, especially in busy traffic on unlit roads. Driving at night is a skill that needs to be learnt. As learner drivers one is not required to have lessons in driving at night however, for safety`s sake, one may find it useful to ask your instructor for a few night time lessons just be sure. During the day, light is pretty well evenly distributed but at night intense light sources cut through the black making it hard on your eyes and sometimes even acting to disorientate you. This light also causes dazzle.

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