Headlights on, All the time?

Get accustomed to well-meaning pedestrians’ concern for you to turn off your bike’s headlight from now on, at least till they are used to seeing headlights on all the time.

If you have bought a vehicle after 31st March 2017, your vehicle along with being BSIV compliant also comes with a missing headlamp switch. This is commonly called AHO (Automatic Headlight On) feature, similar to DRL (Daylight Running Lamps) in cars.

The idea is to increase safety for two-wheelers by making them more conspicuous (with the headlight on) for others on the road. This will be useful at dawn and dusk (esp. on lanes with tree cover), in rains, and in foggy/dusty conditions. It could also save accidents in blind curves, and vehicle overtaking situations on 2-way roads.

Few facts about AHO.

  • AHO, a passive safety feature, is made mandatory for all motorbikes sold after April 1, 2017, by Govt of India.
  • Like in some of the high-end bikes and DRL in cars, the headlights in motorbikes will stay on as long as the ignition is on.
  • Two-wheeler manufacturers have now removed the on/off switch located on the right handlebar, between engine kill switch and electric start button.
  • Two-wheelers accounted for the single category of vehicles that have met with the highest number of fatal road crashes (32,524) in 2014. Another 1,27,452 instances where people on road (including riders) suffered injuries.
  • This AHO directive was based on directions from the Supreme Court appointed Justice Radhakrishnan committee. Transport ministry issued a notification in March 2016, making AHO mandatory for all two-wheelers from April 2017.
  • It is implemented along with BSIV. Bharath Stage IV is an emission norm regulation for manufacturers. BSIV and AHO have nothing to do with each other. They just happened to be implemented together.
  • DRL and AHOs are currently mandatory in several developed countries. This feature is there in Europian countries since 2003.

Some concerns regarding the AHO rule

 What happens to my motorbike’s battery if the headlight is always on?
A LED light would consume very little power. Halogen bulbs would be an issue.

European countries may require this rule because of their environmental conditions. Does India really need this rule?
Yes, it is needed. People forget to put on the headlights during dawn and dusk. They may think they can see the roads clearly (confident of their eyesight!), but the headlight is for others on road to see your vehicle too.

People will start indicating to me to put my bike’s headlight off every time during the day now. It is a nuisance.
They will eventually learn about the rule or get bored indicating about headlights to too many on the road. It would be great if they start pointing out that you are not wearing your helmet, or riding with your vehicle stand on.

AHO is a great little move for safety, though long pending. It surely will save some precious lives on the road, though the saved may not attribute it to the headlights.

The government is also working on another feature which would create a specific type of noise which would alert the people or police officials nearby of any accidents. This feature is being given importance as the current response time to help people involved in any crash is still not quick enough and that this response time would be longer in remote areas. Hope this will soon be implemented.

We can save so much misery with every life saved. Let us welcome and appreciate every safety measure coming in our way.

Don’t forget the best thing to do on the road is to drive sensibly, that is, with common sense and empathy for others sharing the road and pavements.

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