Headlights or Bust

By Julia Matulionis |Staff Writer|

Due to resulting injuries and accidents on Highyway 18, nine new highway signs are being installed, instructing drivers to turn their headlights on during the day.

This section of road starts at the Crestline Cut-off and continues until the Big Bear Dam.

The plan for the new signs were put in place after local residents expressed their safety concerns for the highway at a community meeting last year.

Present at the meeting was Caltrans, a state agency responsible for highway, bridge and rail transportation planning, construction and maintenance.

“Some people brought this idea up to our panel members and our staff while we were there,” said Terri Kasinga, Caltrans spokeswoman, according to SBSun.com.

Caltrans officials discovered there have been more than 300 crashes between early 2009 and early 2011 along Highway 18, 130 resulting in injury.

There were 228 crashes that occurred during the day in that period.

“The 18 is the worst. Sometimes you can’t see 10 feet in front of you because the clouds roll up there,” said Melissa Moreno, student and local resident. “It gets so dense.”

However, student Alfred Gutierrez has a different view, “I don’t see how putting on headlights would improve vision if its daylight outside,” said Gutierrez.

This is not the first daylight headlight section in the area. There are several others already in place around Southern California, including a section of the 15 freeway near Barstow and another section of Highway 138 west of the 15 closer to Palmdale.

Police will be on high alert at this section of road starting Nov. 1 pulling over drivers who are not falling into line regarding the new policy.

Instead of issuing tickets, they will be informing them of the new law and enforcing the importance.

Motorists will be given leniency allowing them to become accustomed to the new guidelines.

“For 30 days officers will be giving people verbal warnings, giving people some fudge room,” said Benjamin Baker, a CHP officer. “October will be a grace period,” continued Baker.

Starting Dec. 1 tickets will start to be written citing section 21461(a) of the California Vehicle Code which states, “It is unlawful for a driver of a vehicle to fail to obey a sign or signal.”

Penalty fines could end up costing drivers as much as $350.

Some students brought up questions regarding draining battery life.

There are several way to drain a car’s battery, driving with your headlights on; however, is not one of them, according to EHow.com.

As long as you drive for longer than 20 minutes at a time it will not kill your battery. This gives the alternator time to recharge the battery.

Over the long term, repeated short-distance driving can shorten the expected life of a car battery, which typically should be from three to five years.

CSUSB student Geo Rangel is for the new plan. “Sounds like a good idea. You can see a car better with its headlights on. It’s safer,” said Rangel.