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October 27, 2009

October is Headlight Safety Month

3M-national-Headlight-Safety-month-Logo With the proliferation of official monthly endorsements, sometimes it's hard to keep track of what's important and relevant. For instance, most women are aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but I'd be willing to bet that very few are aware of the other automotive safety campaigns taking place this month.

For instance: We started the month with the AAA-sponsored "Heads-Up Driving Week" to educate consumers about the need for attentive driving. But did you know it's also National Headlight Safety Month? (At least, for a few more days, that is.)

Days are growing shorter so it's especially important that we all ensure we will be safe and visible before setting our clocks back on November 1. This is particularly relevant because according to statistics we received from the Motor Vehicle Lighting Council, limited visibility is a factor in 2.8 million accidents, 23,000 fatal crashes, and 2,300 pedestrian deaths!

Broken-headlight-by-wallyir_morguefile.com_archive_display_533509 The AAIA Car Care Council found that 26 percent of the cars it inspected had issues with their lighting system, so with these facts in mind, we're educating drivers about the dangers of dim headlights and asking women to conduct a vehicle safety check to improve their visibility and safety on the road.

"Driving a car that has major visibility problems can be like getting behind the wheel without your glasses," says automotive expert Sam Memmolo, who has spent three decades restoring and repairing cars in his garage and as the host of major automotive broadcast programs. "You just aren't going to be able to see well. This may put you and the people in your car at risk, as well as everyone on the road around you."

Check your headlight brightness - Headlight bulbs dim over time. Park on a level surface facing five feet from a wall and check the light display. The circles of light should be bright or soft white, not yellow or dim, and the circles should be even and aligned straight forward on the wall.

Sylvania-headlight-bulb Change the bulbs - A high-quality bulb will burn brighter and last longer. Be sure to replace both bulbs at the same time, even if it doesn't seem that they both need it.

Check your mirrors -- Ensure they are in good working condition without cracks. Wipe them clean or use a treatment to keep them from spotting in the rain.

Taillight-by-kevinrosseel-morguefile.com_archive_display_207871 Check your tail lights, brake lights, backup lights, and license plate illumination lights
- Back your vehicle against the wall again and activate your rear lights while watching in your rearview mirror. You can replace these easily - and even save yourself a traffic ticket. If you replace bulbs and they still don't work, replace the fuse. Fuses are so small and inexpensive, it's easy to keep spares in your glovebox.

Headlight-polish-kit Check your headlight lenses - Most cars sold in the United States in the last 10 years have plastic headlight lenses which tend to age faster with exposure to summer's extreme heat, and winter's road salts. If yours have a cloudy, milky surface and you can't see the bulb through the plastic, you have damage that can limit your visibility on the highway. Worry not! While new replacements from the dealership can cost more than a thousand dollars, at-home improvement restoration and renewal kits allow drivers to easily remove the hazy layer of damage and polish the lens back to crystal clear condition. Most kits allow car owners to do the job themselves in less than an hour for less than $30.

"With one trip to a local auto parts store, a car owner can make their car - and themselves - a whole lot safer on the road," said Courtney Hansen, host of "Powerblock" on Spike TV. "It only takes a cordless or electric drill for the job. For less than $30 and about an hour of work, people can greatly improve their light output and visibility on the road, not to mention the appearance of their vehicle.

Check your windshield wipers - With the shorter days comes winter's inclement weather, so be sure you start the snow and rain season with fresh wiper blades. Once you've inspected your car to make sure other drivers can see you, you'll want to be sure you can also see them clearly too!

Try to set some time aside to perform this safety check on Saturday. Otherwise you might find yourself truly in the dark after the time change on Sunday evening!

creative commons broken headlight by wallyir at 
creative commons taillight by kevinrosseel at

Jody-devere_president_askpatty Jody DeVere
President and CEO

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