High beams & what we need to know about them

Every vehicle comes with 2 sets of front white lights. The lights to be used normally are named headlights or low-beams; however, there is another set of lights which are brighter and can provide longer distance visibility, these lights are name “high beams”. Our post today is dedicated to these high beams lights, because it is important to know when to use them and when NOT to use them.

Firstly, we just want to explain that the main purpose of these lights is to provide you longer range of visibility in dark areas, also to flash them to safely warn others about your presence. The law in Florida (state where conduct our operations) clearly defines the use of these lights, and details can be found at the Florida Statutes Chapter 316.238(1).

It mainly confirms that we should not use the high beams within 500 feet of any vehicle approaching in the opposite direction, to prevent the direct glare to the other driver. Also, we should not use them within 300 feet when we follow another vehicle, to prevent the possible reflection in their rear view mirror(s).

Now, there is a very important fact to consider when we want/need to use the high beams driving at night or in dark areas, car nowadays are coming equipped with powerful LED lights, which are brighter than former halogen lights. Having brighter lights means that distance to potentially blind or upset other drivers is longer, leaving the 500 feet (for oncoming traffic) or 300 feet (when we follow others) pretty much outdated.

At JMP Driving School, we teach our students the law concerning the use of the high beams and distance the law also stipulates, but considering the disparity between car with halogen lights and newer ones with LED lights, we always suggest to prevent the use of the high beams when another vehicle is in front (despite the distance) to prevent any glare in other drivers (and possible dangerous scenario).

Normal headlights (AKA low beams) are bright enough in newer cars, that using the high beams is barely needed. After all, the better the other driver can see, the less chances to end up in a collision with us, (we can call that Win-Win scenario). On the other hand, nobody in front of your car? turn them ON and enjoy them.

Q. Is using the high beams in traffic illegal.

A. YES, it is. Any driver found using the high beams within the established legal distance, is a noncriminal traffic infraction, which is punishable as a moving violation as provided in Florida Statutes Chapter 318.

Final note: the picture below shows you the power of new LED lights activated in high beams mode, just imagine this amount of brightness in other drivers eyes.

This picture shows the glare caused by stock high beams lights activated in a  2018 Toyota Corolla  (equipped with LED lights).

This picture shows the glare caused by stock high beams lights activated in a 2018 Toyota Corolla (equipped with LED lights).

Car safety equals to Road safety

Driving is without doubt a very nice experience for many us (unless we’re stuck in traffic). However, it is always enjoyable when safety is involved every second we’re behind the wheel, which is something commonly overlooked for many drivers, thinking the way how to get from point a to point b without taking proper care of car maintenance, it’s at this point when the enjoyable experience of driving can become a nightmare.

Nowadays, it’s very easy to keep a track of your car maintenance using many of the available apps using the key words “car maintenance tracker”. Many of them come with awesome reminder feature based on mileage or time (depending when service is supposed to be performed). Reading the owner’s manual is always important, not only to be better informed about your maintenance schedule but you will be surprised of many features you will enjoy in your car (unless you read the manual). Ultimately, you can always keep in the glove compartment a paper with notes about of service and repairs performed to your vehicle.

Learning how to detect signs of wear and tear in your vehicle parts will not only save you problems and headaches, but a lot of money on “unexpected” repairs.

Easy things to check in your car:

- Fluid level: oil, washer fluid, power steering, brake and coolant.
- Firmness on your brake pedal (if your brake fluid is low, you may need to replace the brake pads and/or brake shoes, don’t simply add fluid. Have your car inspected to know if it’s the time for new pads and/or shoes)
- Light bulbs: have someone outside the car to see if any light is not working properly, while you’re turning on and off all different lights and signals from inside. Replace the bad ones as soon as possible, remember others won’t know your intentions if the lights aren’t working. (Also, you can get a ticket for this reasons)
- Make sure the horn is working properly
- Tire pressure: it’s very easy to learn and do (check the sticker on the door frame on the driver side of your vehicle to know the proper tire pressure). Don’t forget the spare tire, it will be you savior in the bad hour (check its pressure inflated once a month)
- Have a First Aid Kit in the trunk; update and replenish as necessary

 

Last but not least, DON’T FORGET TO BUCKLE UP !!!

Be careful when someone else moves loose cargo

We’ve seen many times and for sure you too, not only on city streets but on highways; people driving all over the places with loose cargo in the back of their pickup trucks, trunks or even worse on the top of a sedan with some ropes.

This “very common” event has caused many accidents and some fatalities in our roads. Purely negligence, makes our roads insecure and the lives of many in risk, just for the ignorant pride of a few thinking they can defy the forces of physics when they need to move stuffs from one place to another. Most of the loose cargo you could see will be furniture, household items, tires, appliances, mattresses, surfboards, bicycles, woods, etc. just to mention some of them.

The bad consequences of transporting loose cargo could happen to you and anyone out there, when inexperienced individuals often over-pack and neglect to secure cargo properly, and after a few minutes exposed to the forces of winds generated by the movement of the vehicle, the load becomes unstable, producing serious, costly and potential fatal results.

Once untied from the vehicle, any of these objects can become a projectile to other vehicles behind and a potential menace to its surroundings. Something is clear, this object in “motion” can go in any direction without control, and if we are lucky, it will stop on the grass on the side of the highway or another “safe place”.

In other cases, you will see the weight distribution is not even, making the vehicle transporting the load to roll easily. Excess weight is another common mistake, this can cause stress in the brake system, making it vulnerable and insufficient if an emergency situation arise.

It doesn’t matter how safely you can prepare your trip, the actions and decisions of others could always turn things around. So, if you see something similar on the road, just keep yourself as far as possible from that vehicle (never behind) and whenever possible, overtake it minimizing the time you need to be next to it. Leave yourself a way out, in the event that something flies out the vehicle and may cause a reaction in the drivers around you.

It’s simple, never be behind (if needed, do it as far as possible).  Stay safe!!!

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