This small, inexpensive component can save your life. Third brake lights, also known as center high mount stop lamps, have been mandatory safety items in North America since 1986. Often situated higher than the other two side brake lights and right in the middle of a vehicle's rear window or deck lid, third brake lights notify trailing motorists whenever you step on the brakes. Studies conducted when these brake lights first came into widespread use found that rear-end collisions were reduced by an astonishing 50%! With such an important role in your personal safety, you should replace your third brake light right away when it burns out.
Here are some points to consider when buying a third brake light:
- Make sure that the third brake light you get is ""street legal"" in the sense that it meets all the standards and regulations enforced by the US Department of Transportation (DOT). You can do this by checking the specifications of the brake light and comparing them to your state's required specifications, visiting the manufacturer's website and checking if the component is DOT approved, and testing it right after installation.
- Be wary of fake or counterfeit brake lights. Some of the marks of a counterfeit product include bad grammar and misspellings on the packaging, incorrect contact information provided, and the absence of any indication that it is DOT approved. Do not buy such a product.
- We recommend you get a light-emitting diode (LED) third brake light. This type of brake light is small, consumes less energy, requires little maintenance, and shines brighter than all the other alternatives. An LED is also ideal because of its fast switching time, which means it reacts faster to your using the brakes. It can fully light up around half a second faster than an incandescent bulb-a difference equivalent to an entire car's length at normal highway speeds.
- See if you can find custom LED brake lights specifically designed for your vehicle. These can add some style as well as safety to your ride.
- Flashing LED lights are ideal for added visibility. However, make sure it is not flashing too quickly as this may be a hazard for epileptic drivers.
Also, be sure to check your vehicle owner manual for any specifications regarding your third brake light. Keep these tips in mind and you will soon be enjoying a safer, more stylish ride.