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Motorists urged to be switched on this winter

Tuesday, 8th Aug 2017

More than 6,000 motorists were detected for lighting-related offences in 2016, with winter not surprisingly being the most common season for the offence to occur.

A total of 6,364 people were detected last year, with the most common offence being driving without effective lights (55%), followed by using a fog light when not permitted (34%).

Across the past five years (2012-16), these offence types increased by 70 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, while lighting offences overall have increased by 53 per cent.

“Driving without effective lights applies to people who forget to turn their lights on at night or in hazardous weather, as well as those who may have a single bulb out,” said Charles Mountain, RAA Senior Manager Road Safety.

Not surprisingly, July is the most common month for motorists to be detected for driving without lights (11.3%), followed by August (10.7%). Thirty-seven per cent of these offences are detected between 8pm and 10pm.

“Given we’re in the midst of winter when daylight hours are at their shortest and weather conditions are at their worst, it would be advisable for motorists to check that their headlights and other lights are working,” said Mr Mountain.

“Of course motorists should also make sure they’ve turned their lights on before undertaking any journey at night or in poor weather.

“Don’t rely on the auto-on function for headlights either, as there is some variability in their sensitivity to light or you might have de-activated it on a previous trip.”

A recent survey of RAA members found 27 per cent of people would use their high beam headlights in foggy conditions to increase what they can see.

“However, by using high beam as opposed to fog lights, this can actually make visibility worse because it reflects the light off the fog and can dazzle other drivers.”

“Fog lights should only be used when visibility is less than 100m,” said Mr Mountain.

The penalty for driving at night without lights or using fog lights when not permitted is $238, plus a $60 Victims of Crime Levy.

“Obviously it’s a simple mistake to make, but it’s also easily avoidable by conducting regular vehicle checks to make sure your lights are working and then ensuring you use them correctly in the conditions,” said Mr Mountain.

“Motorists shouldn’t just rely on the lights being checked when they get their car serviced, because it’s possible they’ll stop working between services.

“And don’t just check the headlights, motorists should also check the side, tail brake, and number plate lights are working, along with the lights on anything you’re towing, such as a caravan or trailer.”

Most bulbs can be easily changed with just a screwdriver, but RAA suggests checking your owner’s manual for instructions first.

“If you can’t get home because a light’s gone out and you have RAA Road Service, one of our patrols may be able to come and replace it for you,” said Mr Mountain.

“We can change most types of external car lights, but there are certain ones that – by design – must be done at a workshop or by the dealer.”

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