Lighting as a safety factor
Optimal visibility for motorists reduces numbers of accidents
Seeing and being seen – optimal lighting is an important safety factor, as important for motorists as an effective braking system and tyres that are in good condition. Poor visibility is one of the commonest causes of accidents.
The importance of light and visibility is particularly obvious at night. According to a TNS Infratest poll, one in three German motorists does not like driving at night and feels unsafe. It is also a fact that nearly half of all fatal accidents occur at night – even though there are five times fewer vehicles on the roads than during the day. So darkness really does present a real risk of accident.
But good visibility is also crucial during the day – not only on dark country roads but also and especially in fog, rain and snow. Good automotive lamps and headlights ensure optimal road lighting and better visibility.
Better lighting for better visual performance
Everyone is short-sighted at night. This is due to the reduced performance capacity of the rod cells in the retina of the human eye. That capacity gradually decreases as we get older. Achieving only five percent of the visual performance that is possible during the day, the eyes of older motorists in particular are extremely challenged in darkness. This takes its toll on concentration – and occasionally costs valuable fractions of a second that could prevent an accident. Bright light provided by high-intensity automotive lamps eases the strain on the eyes and the motorist.
The German Federal Association of Ophthalmologists (BVA) estimates that around 300,000 accidents a year are due to bad visibility for motorists – 300,000 good reasons for using good automotive lights.
Better lighting for faster reactions
Nearly 100 pedestrians a year are killed on Germany's roads at night. A person wearing dark clothing is invisible to a motorist at a distance of more than 25 metres. So a person's life could depend on the motorist's rapid response and prompt application of the brakes. Better vehicle lighting enables pedestrians and other road users to be identified earlier and accidents prevented.
Conversely, more light on the road also helps pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and car drivers to identify an oncoming vehicle more quickly.
Better lighting – everyone can ensure it
Visual impairment by fog, rain or snow is responsible for more than 1,000 accidents a year. Even during the day, fog is the reason for 30% of all weather-related accidents; at night, the risk of accident is significantly higher. Here too, optimal lighting improves visibility and makes for greater safety.
Around 2.3 million accidents, nearly 340,000 persons injured, 5,000 deaths – German accident statistics in 2007 make depressing reading. No motorist can influence general lighting and weather conditions. But everyone can take active steps to improve their own vehicle lighting and thus make for greater road safety. It is perfectly simple: a regular lighting check at an auto service centre quickly establishes whether the lighting is OK or could be improved.
Incidentally, the nationwide lighting inspection campaign conducted in Germany in 2008 revealed defects in the lighting systems of 36% of the vehicles checked. That could mean not just a fine of up to 40 euros but also crucial seconds in an emergency...