Christmas is a time for families. Many of you will probably be taking to the nation’s roads this week to spend time with your family. With the days getting shorter, time spent behind the wheel during the darker hours will increase.

It is important to remember that the headlights are the driver’s first line of defense on the road. Before you hit the highway with your family for a winter road trip, it is a good idea to make sure that your vehicle’s light is in proper working order.

Check your headlights

Check your headlights and tail lights before you leave. To check whether the taillights or headlights are illuminated, simply turn on your full lights and walk around your vehicle. You need properly functioning headlights to ensure that you can see and be seen by other motorists, even in the most limited visibility conditions. Without them, you’d be blind.

While you’re at it, you may want to check the brake lights and signal lights as well. Ask your partner to check on your brake and signal lights while backing into a parking space. Brake lights should be bright and red. This will serve as a warning for drivers behind you that you are stopping or slowing down.

Keep the lights clean

Your headlights can get cloudy overtime. Unlike before, the light may have a yellowish, dingy tinge to it. Having cloudy headlights can significantly reduce your visibility on the road. Unfortunately, most car owners don’t give their headlights much thought. This can be dangerous, especially during the winter.

For maximum driving safety, always keep your lights clean. A soft-bristled brush, an old rug, a mild cleanser, and a bucket of water are all you need to for cleaning your headlights. Never underestimate the importance of your car’s lights.

Replace headlights

If you are going on a road trip, chances are you’ll do at least some driving at night. This can be dangerous if your headlights are dim or not working properly. To ensure a safer ride, make sure that you inspect your car’s light and replace those that are out. Remember, the chance of an accident increases if you can’t see or be seen. If you can’t remember the last time you replaced the lights, now is the best time to do so. The last thing you want is to get stuck in the middle of the road with a dim headlight.

Also, always replace headlights in pairs. Even if the other is still in good condition, you want to swap it out as well. Otherwise, it can create an uneven field of vision, which can pose a risk on the driver and others on the road.