There are several forms of light that first responders or other emergency personnel may utilize on the road, and while they’re sometimes forgotten among other major light formats, headlights are important in this conversation. A related topic that regularly comes up, not only among first responders but even among civilians driving personal vehicles on the road: How should headlights be utilized during the daytime?
At LED Equipped, we’re here to provide our clients with a huge range of LED warning lights, light bars and numerous other quality products — and we also offer things like wig wag lights, headlight flashers and many others that speak to some of your vehicle’s simplest light capabilities. What are some basic guidelines governing the use of headlights during the daytime, both during general settings and during emergency response situations? Here’s a general primer.
During most normal situations, when there is proper daylight outside and no emergency response is required, both civilians and first responders generally should not have their headlights on. This can actually cause more of a glare for other drivers, making it harder for them to see the road in front of them.
There are those who will claim that daytime use of headlights improves visibility even if the sun is out, but this isn’t always universally true — and in many cases, it can actually cause more problems than it’s worth. One such concept: If too many people on the road have their headlights turned on during the day, those vehicles that don’t (and there will always be some of these) will be come less visible, rather than more.
Another important concept here, and one that really drives home the concept of not using headlights during normal daytime operations: It can cause extra strain on your vehicle’s fuel usage. Headlights use up a good amount of power, and if you’re driving during the daytime you shouldn’t need them anyway — so why waste the electricity?
If you consider the increase in fuel needs that would come if all drivers in the US were required to use their headlights during the daytime, it would be pretty significant. We’re not talking about a few percentage points here; we’re talking about a major jump that would necessitate some real changes in our country’s energy usage and production. Some have estimated that this singular change could cost Americans up to $1 billion per year in additional fuel costs — when you combine this with the fact that, as we went over above, it really wouldn’t provide that many benefits, it’s easy to see why this idea has failed to gain traction.
Normal Situation Exceptions
Now, as you may have already guessed before getting to this point, there are some exceptions to the general rule that headlights aren’t needed during the day. Here are a few:
- Rain or snow: If you’re driving and the weather conditions are such that your windshield wipers are on, then it’s generally a good idea to have your headlights turned on as well. This will make it easier for other drivers to see you, and will help ensure that everyone remains safe on the road.
- Fog: If there’s a significant amount of fog, regardless of the time of day, it may be a good idea to have your headlights on. Again, this will help with visibility for other drivers and improve overall safety on the road.
- Smoke: If there’s smoke on the road from a nearby fire, or if you’re driving through an area with a lot of wildfires, it can be helpful to have your headlights on — especially if it’s during the daytime. This will help you see better, and will also make it easier for other drivers to spot you and avoid any potential accidents.
- Strange sun angles: At certain times of the day, such as early morning or sunset, the sun can be in a position that makes it harder to see. In these cases, it may be helpful to have your headlights on for improved visibility.
- Unfamiliar terrain: If you’re driving in an unfamiliar area, such as on a road trip or in a new city, it can be helpful to have your headlights on during the daytime. This will help you see better and will also make it easier for other drivers to spot you.
In fact, it’s important to realize that in some states, it’s actually a legal requirement to use headlights during the day in certain situations — like many of those we went over above. So, if you’re unsure about whether or not to use your headlights, it’s always a good idea to check the laws in your state so that you can be sure that you’re following them.
Headlights and Emergency Situations
In cases where emergencies are taking place and an immediate response is necessary, headlights are often one of the primary tools used. And while most of this is true for first responders themselves, which we’ll go over momentarily, there are also some considerations to be made among civilians who find themselves in this situation:
- Recognizing emergency signals: If you see an emergency vehicle with its lights on, it’s important to pull over to the side of the road and come to a stop. This will help clear the way for the responders and will also make it easier for them to spot you.
- Controlling your own light usage: In cases where you’re involved in or witnessing an accident or other emergency, it’s important to control your own light usage. This means not using your high beams, and also not flashing your lights excessively. Both of these can impede the vision of first responders and other drivers, and can ultimately lead to more accidents and injuries.
- Signaling to other drivers: If you’re involved in or witnessing an accident, it’s also important to signal to other drivers. This can be done with your headlights, your taillights, or even your hazard lights. The goal is to make sure that everyone is aware of the situation and can take the necessary precautions.
As we noted, however, some of the most important individuals in these daytime settings are first responders. Here are some basic tips on the usage of headlights, flashers and related items for emergency personnel and others in these situations:
- Headlights as a notification tool: Many emergency vehicles are equipped with special lighting systems that can be used to notify other drivers of their presence. However, in some cases, headlights may also be used for this purpose. This is often the case with police vehicles, which may have their headlights on even when there’s no emergency taking place.
- Flashers as a notification tool: Emergency vehicles are also equipped with flashers, which can be used to notify other drivers of their presence. These are usually used in conjunction with headlights, and they’re often activated when the vehicle is stopped or moving slowly.
- In coordination with other formats: In nearly every case, headlights and flashers are used in coordination with other light formats. This might include the use of sirens, spotlights, or even megaphones. The goal is to make sure that everyone is aware of the emergency situation and can take the necessary precautions.
- Consider LED lights: Both for prime visibility and for power-saving purposes, it’s often a good idea to consider LED lights. These are becoming increasingly popular in both emergency vehicles and personal vehicles, and they offer a number of benefits over traditional lightbulbs. They last longer, for one, which means that you won’t have to replace them as often. They’re also more energy-efficient, which can save you money in the long run.
- Beware of surroundings: In any situation where you’re using your headlights or flashers, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. This means not only paying attention to the traffic around you, but also to your own vehicle. Make sure that you’re not causing a blind spot for other drivers, and also make sure that you’re not blinding yourself with your own lights.
- Use common sense: As with any situation, it’s always important to use common sense. If you’re not sure whether or not you should be using your headlights or flashers, err on the side of caution. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and in an emergency situation, every second counts.
For more on the use of headlights and flashers during the daytime, or to learn about any of our emergency LED light options, speak to the pros at LED Equipped today.