The Importance of Headlight Aim

Headlamp AimAfter 20 years of full time traffic policing you accumulate many memories. I was reminded of one on the weekend when a small pickup passed me by and I could see the bright patch from the right low beam headlight shining on the pavement about 3 meters in front of the vehicle. The memory concerns a driver who thought headlight aim was unimportant.

I had stopped that driver in much the same circumstances and issued a repair order for his vehicle. He did bring the order back to the detachment, but it was inside a card offering to buy me coffee so I could sit down, relax and hopefully not take the issue so seriously.

Why worry about headlight aim? If it is set too low your ability to see at a distance is reduced. Set it too high and you can see further down the road but illumination of the pavement for vehicle guidance is affected.

Oddly enough, a driver with mis-aligned headlights is more susceptible to glare from oncoming vehicles. The difference between light levels of oncoming lamps and the visual task area while driving at night is smaller when your headlights are properly aimed than when they are not. Your eyes see the latter situation as one with more glare.

Sorry sir, I still think that headlight aim is something to be taken seriously!

Reference Links


Twenty years' worth of stories

Thanks for this week's material, Tim.  I can only imagine how many memories you accumulated over twenty years of service.  Reading about them is always a nice touch, and I especially like the image of you receiving a card and a suggestion to relax. 

Someone I know recently bought a late model used vehicle, and just yesterday, he remarked to me about how wonderfully effective his new wheels' headlights are.  Lights are so easy to take for granted, but I've been trying to pay more attention to mine in the past few years.  In addition to doing simple stuff, like keeping them clean, I've been keeping tabs on their alignment, too.   It's good to know I'm fighting the war against oncoming glare!

Thanks again for your story;  I'm always eager for more.



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