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Driving with blown bulb is illegal and could result in fine or penalty points
Poor visibility in fog is one of the greatest fears of motorists* yet AA patrols report seeing many drivers dicing with death by driving with defective lights.
Recent freezing fog should serve as a reminder to all drivers to check their lights, ensure they’re clean and have spare bulbs handy.
The so-called ‘one-eyed monsters’ can look like a motorbike from a distance making judging gaps and overtaking a real hazard, as well as risking being hit following a breakdown. Broken brake lights also give drivers behind less time to react.
we’ve even seen cars with just one light in four working – both tail lights and a headlight gone – which is crazy
Andy Smith, AA patrol of the year
Andy Smith, AA patrol of the year, says: “At this time of year, cars with a blown bulb are a common sight on the roads but in foggy conditions, it’s even more crucial to see and be seen. Driving with a defective light is illegal and risky but we’ve even seen cars with just one light in four working – both tail lights and a headlight gone – which is crazy.
“You should regularly check all the lights, ideally every day, not forgetting fog and reversing lights, full-beam headlights, brake lights and indicators. You can get someone to help or reverse up to a wall to check the rears. It only takes a minute but could potentially save your life.
“The fault often occurs because of a blown bulb or because corrosion has built up on the terminals. However, it could also mean an electrical problem, so if in doubt, it is best to get it checked at a garage.”
As well as an MOT failure, driving with a faulty or damaged light could mean a fixed penalty notice, or three points on the driving licence plus a bigger fine if it goes to court. Drivers who cause a fatal or serious accident due to faulty lights could face harsher penalties, including a possible prison sentence.
Andy Smith says: “Even if your lights are working fine, remember to regularly clean them, as they quickly get caked in winter grime. To reduce glare, give the windscreen a thorough clean too – inside and out.
“Top up the windscreen wash with a proper winter additive and run your finger down the wiper blades to check for nicks and tears. New blades and windscreen wash often don’t cost a lot but make a real difference during winter.”
Andy Smith says: “Be extra vigilant when driving in fog, as it can catch you unawares, especially when it’s dark. Keep your speed down and maintain a bigger gap – at least three seconds – between you and the vehicle in front. Use your fog lights responsibly and switch them off – front and rear – when there’s a consistent improvement in visibility.”
(12 December 2012)
* Source: Populus interviewed 11,388 between 24-28 October 2008. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
Keep your lights shining with the AA Universal Bulb Kit, containing all three types of main headlight bulb.