Gridlock Guy: Turn your headlights on all the time

Even though Captain Herb Emory and I have been friends and co-workers for over 16 years, we really don’t have that much in common.

He loves NASCAR, while I’m a big baseball guy. He listens to country music, and I prefer hip-hop. Herb likes red-eye gravy on his biscuits and I choose white sausage gravy.

When it comes to traffic issues though, we usually walk in lock-step.

Last week in my column I offered advice for drivers commuting in rainy conditions. After the column ran in the paper, I was bombarded with e-mails from people taking me to task for not suggesting people turn their headlights on when driving in the rain.

For that omission, I apologize. I should have included that piece of advice. But to be fair, I never think about turning my lights on when it rains. Because I always have my lights on. As soon as I get in my car, I put my seatbelt on and turn on my headlights. Day or night. Rain or shine. It’s second nature to me.

My hope is that it becomes second nature to all drivers in Atlanta. As soon as you start your car, turn your lights on. On this point, Captain Herb and I agree.

“That’s a good habit,” Captain Herb said. “There are no negatives at all to drive with your headlights on all the time.”

While I cover traffic indoors from the WSB Traffic Center, Captain Herb is usually in his helicopter or driving on the roads. He sees the need for headlight “awareness.”

“It’s a big problem,” Emory said. “The week before last (when we had four straight days of rain) I was driving and I looked around me and only three of 10 cars had their headlights on.”

Part of the problem might be reliance on “automatic” headlights on most modern vehicles.

“People need to get out of the habit of the automatic headlights doing the work for them,” Captain Herb said. “Sometimes they don’t activate when they need to be on. Drivers should make sure they are on when it’s raining or foggy or there is limited visibility.”

Not only is it safer to have your lights on in these conditions, it’s also the law.

According to the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles: “Headlights must be on a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise. Headlights must also be on when it is raining and when visibility is reduced to under 500 feet.”

Or, you can just to what I do and turn your lights on all the time. It’s easy, safe and will help make you more visible to your fellow commuters.

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