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Keep your lights on

May 10,2018
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SUNG SI-YOON
*The author is the head of educational news at the JoongAng Ilbo.

I went to Jeju Island for vacation and it rained all day. Route 1131 on the eastern side of Mount Halla was covered in thick fog. I couldn’t see if the lights 50 meters (164 feet) in front of me was a car or a signal at a crossroad. I could only tell the color of the traffic light when I was very close.

In this kind of weather, the lights on the cars around me helped a lot. Thanks to the emergency lights on the car in front of me, I could estimate the shape of the road. Turning on the car’s headlights and emergency lights not only kept me safe but also protected others.
I learned to turn on the headlights on a rainy day when I got my license more than 20 years ago. But it was only about ten years ago when I realized that it was a must. I did not understand why some countries require people to keep their headlights on even during the day. In Korea, if I saw someone driving with their lights on during the day, I made sure to tell the driver about it when we were stopped, thinking it must have been a mistake.

But one night about ten years ago, I realized why those lights are necessary. I had driven more than an hour without lights along the Olympic Highway in Seoul at 70 to 90 kilometers per hour (43 to 56 miles per hour) and only realized this when I parked. I could have caused a fatal accident.

How could I have not known that I didn’t turn on my headlights? It was because I was relying on the lights of other cars. I regretted my insensitivity. Ever since, it has become a habit of mine to keep my headlights on day and night. I always make sure I signal when turning, and I try not cross the lines on the road when turning at intersections.

May is the month of family, and we should be gracious not only to our families but also to others. We live every moment relying on the lights shed on ourselves. They come from drivers on the road or the soldiers, policemen and firefighters who are on duty when we are asleep. They come from the deliverymen who bring the goods we need or the workers at the companies headed or managed by some of our family members.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 9, Page 30