PhotoMost of the U.S. returns to standard time this weekend. Clocks will be set back one hour beginning at 2 a.m. Sunday, November 4.

But there's more to do than just turn back the clocks. Fire safety advocates ask that consumers use the occasion of the time change to replace the batteries in their smoke detectors.

By replacing the batteries on the first Sunday in November and the second Sunday in March, when the nation goes on Daylight Savings Time, consumers can be sure their smoke detectors are working properly all year round.

But why stop there? The Car Care Council, which represents manufacturers of aftermarket auto parts, suggests you use the occasion to replace your vehicles' wiper blades and check the lights.

Equipment check

"Turning back the clocks means fewer hours of daylight, so it's even more important that your vehicle's lights and wipers are working properly so you can be seen by others and your visibility is not compromised," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. "From the driver's seat you may not notice a light that isn't working, so inspect all of your car's lights and replace those that are out. Also, inspect and replace wiper blades so you can see clearly when wet weather hits."

Lights are normal wear items that require periodic inspection and replacement. The lighting system provides nighttime visibility; signals and alerts other drivers; and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle's interior.

In addition to replacing dimming, rapidly blinking and non-functioning lights, the following tips can help keep you safe:

  • If there is any doubt on whether your headlights should be on, turn them on. Lights not only help you see better in early twilight, they also make it easier for other drivers to see you.
  • Keep headlights, tail lights and signal lights clean. External dirt and debris can dim operational lights from being seen by others.
  • Make sure that your headlights are properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
  • Don't overdrive your headlights; you should be able to stop inside the illuminated area, otherwise you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.
  • The wiper system keeps excessive water, snow and dirt from building up on the windshield, maintaining clear visibility. Many factors can accelerate the replacement interval of wipers, including operating conditions (winter conditions are tough on wiper blades), frequency of use, material and type of wipers and sunny weather. In fact, wiper blades can deteriorate faster and need more frequent replacement in desert states.

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