Before setting off on your journey home or to your holiday destination, you need to ensure that you have the best possible visibility, no matter the conditions on your trip.
There are various factors which affect this.
Even if the lights are slightly duller than usual, replace them. Ensure you replace both headlights at the same time so they are the same brightness. If you have an older car and the lenses have started to go yellow, you should also get these replaced, preferably by a professional.
Lastly, ensure the lenses are clean before leaving.
You should travel with headlights on all the time. If you do not, however, do not forget to switch them on if it starts to rain. Do not use your brights in fog as light can reflect off the fog and blind you.
Your windscreen also needs to be free of cracks and chips.
Chips and cracks can distort light that shines through the windscreen, affecting perception. Small chips can make the light shine in a halo effect while grooves can make it seem like a strip of light has two tails. The effect on vision is more pronounced at night time.
Other effects that this can cause include taking longer to adapt when a light dazzles you and difficulty detecting and judging distances to objects.
Part of windscreen maintenance includes inspecting the windscreen wipers.
Check that they are in good working condition and are not worn or discoloured. Both use and the sunlight cause wipers to wear. If they are not worn also ensure they are not dirty. Dirt can corrode the rubber and leave dirty streaks when you use them. If you need to replace them, avoid choosing cheaper, low-quality options.
Looking after your eyesight
Approximately 90% of stimulus used to drive safely is collected through vision. Visual acuity and depth perception affect driving.
Visual acuity affects your ability to judge space and distance between objects. You use it when moving into another lane or to clearly see road signs, animals, pedestrians and cyclists.
Peripheral vision is affected by visual acuity. This is your total field of perception which you see without moving your head or eyes. When moving at 100km/h your visual field is only 40°. To see outside of your peripheral range you need stimulation like an indicator light.
Depth perception is what you use to determine the length, width and height of an object. This is what you use to maneuver around cars without bumping them, determine the speed of objects and when crossing roads, changing lanes or overtaking.
It is clear how dangerous a loss in visual acuity or depth perception can be on the roads. If you have not recently had your eyes tested or have concerns your vision is not up to scratch, get them tested before setting off on a long journey.
Eugene Herbert is the Managing Director of MasterDrive, South africa