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Headlights are a safety feature, too

How often do you drive in the dark? Right now in Seattle, the sun sets before 4:30 p.m. Chances are that you've been relying heavily on your headlights and street lamps. Your vision and well-being depend on your headlights' ability to function.

It's easy to forget how crucial your vehicle's lights are to your safety. After all, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) only recently began including headlights in safety ratings for new vehicles. In the dark, it can be easy to miss hazards on the road without proper illumination.

Driving without proper light can lead to some of the most dangerous kinds of accidents. For instance, you could end up rolled over in a ditch if you can't see how sharp a turn in the road is. It may also be harder for other drivers to see your car.

Headlights can dull over time, reducing your ability to see at night, particularly if you're driving outside of Seattle's lit roadways. Although you may have to replace headlights with serious problems, sometimes all it takes to enhance your view is a little maintenance.

Ways to improve your headlights' effectiveness include:

  • Clean residue and buff away salt buildup from the light's surface with special cleaners
  • Check the angle of the beam and adjust it if it's too low or high
  • Upgrade to a newer LED or brighter bulb

If you're in the market for a new vehicle, you can consider the lights along with other safety features. Some cars now have high-beam assist, which automatically turns off high-beams when another car approaches then switches on again after they pass. You can also check the safety ratings between vehicles, although you should remember that you have the option to upgrade them later.

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