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The Importance of Headlight Aim

After 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!

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