Croc's Thoughts

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I have written on this subject before but it occurs to me that there is more to it than my pet peeve of someone flashing their bright lights in my eyes while I am trying to drive safely; construction vehicle lighting, Police and other emergency vehicle lights and business lighting close to highways.


Dangerously bright lights on the Interstate

Of course it helps if the windshield is clean but before the glass needs cleaning it has to get messy. Replacing a windshield is a matter of safety when it becomes pitted and we clean off the bugs each time we stop for a cup of coffee or a bathroom break. Once we get a few bugs on the glass bright lights from beyond are refracted and our view impaired.

Never mind the law, it is a matter of good sense to lower your brights for oncoming traffic so why is it okay for the lights in construction areas to be so bright and blinding. Also there seems to be a competition for the brightest lights possible on top of work vehicles.

Convoying vehicles are equally guilty in this area too. I was passed by the leader of an electrical convoy on it's way to an area badly hit by weather. The leader's lights were brilliant and so blinding that I had to pull over and let everyone else pass me so I would be protected from their blinding effects. I can only imagine how the driver of the first truck in the line was feeling about it.

Inside our eyes, way in the back, is an area populated with cells called rods and cones and these are full of light sensitive pigments. We all know this area as the Retina. Normally light as particles called Photons pass into your eye focused through the lens which stimulate the cells by changing this light sensitive pigment, called retinal, into a slightly different form stimulating the cells to send electrical impulses to your brain. If a really bright light hits the Retina the cells are sent into overdrive and become over excited a state which takes a while to diminish. We have all looked at the Sun before and we know how we continue to see it long after we have looked away. Now let's put ourselves in a position where we are driving and still have that "hole" in our view ~ what happens if there is an object there; a kid, a car, an animal or whatever. We can't see it because we have, for all intents and purposes, been blinded by a bright light.

Over recent years the road construction industry has apparently recognized the problem and changed some of their lights to glowing balls effectively lighting the work area without so much glare that passing drivers are blinded. Good for them.

What about Police vehicles? Even some Officers agree that it is better to use traffic control lights once a vehicle has been pulled over instead of the insanely intense blue and reds. Additionally there is some thought that a moth to a flame effect may be the cause of some accidents relating to collisions with parked Police vehicles. Still we continue to see blinding light shows on Police and Construction vehicles which do a great job during the day but need to be less intense during the night.

When an oncoming vehicle forgets to dim his headlights we usually give the driver a quick flash of ours and expect that the idiot will catch on but none of us would dare flash a Cop even though they are making the road more dangerous than they realize. Add rain or snow to the mix and their lights are refracted though the wet windshield adding to the problem exponentially.

Have you seen the light bars that are being fitted by owners to their pickup trucks? Sweet right? Not so much when the driver has them turned on while driving on the highway. Are these for use in the backwoods or were they built to use on the highway? Are they supposed to add to the brilliance of the high beams or to supplement the low beams? Are they supposed to be adjusted so they don't blind oncoming drivers?

On my old T-2000 I had a set of "driving lights" Okay, let's call them what they were, Spot Lights!! I quickly became aware that they were too bright for oncoming drivers so I adjusted them until I didn't have so many drivers flashing their lights at me. Once adjusted they weren't of much use because the truck's low beams were perfectly adequate. Actually they became a little inconvenient because they were one more set of lights that had to work should an inspection come along.

When I was much younger my car had a rear facing Spot Light. It was there to give a little extra light when I was backing my boat into the water at night. One day I was pulled over by a Cop who told me that rear facing white lights were not permitted. I explained it's use and added that it was wired to a switch on my dashboard but would only work if the transmission was in reverse. "Sweet." he said and added he would do something similar to his own boat puller. We used to have rules about lights didn't we? Have we arrived at a point where it's the brighter the better and never mind Safety? Early trucks and cars had lights akin to candles in brown bottles but technology has given us much brighter, more efficient lights. The lights on our Chrysler 300 are amazing but they were not properly adjusted when we took delivery so we had them lowered. Shouldn't a Cop have been able to pull us over and give us a fix it ticket? Bright lights are dangerous after all.

Another set of bright lights we run into on the road is not from vehicles at all and has nothing to do with road users. How about those security lights which are at the back of a business parking area shining right into the eyes of motorists driving past on a nearby road? I have a security light mounted to the front of my garage which does a good job but it is too bright to be pointing at a road so I have made some adjustments to ensure it doesn't blind passing drivers. Businesses who are trying to protect their property have to be made aware, if they even care, that they are creating dangerous situations on the road.

It's time for everyone to take a look at their lights and consider other road users. Construction crews, consider your own safety and stop blinding passing drivers. Police Officers, we see you okay? Don't blind us. There are laws in some places which restrict the noise coming from the Speaker System in a car, there needs to be laws which allow Cops to pull over cars which are too brightly lit.

Seeing is safer but blinding is not.

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Anyone who spends time on the road behind the wheel has time to think. Thinking can be dangerous. Well it is for me and it gets me into trouble more than I would wish.

That said, perhaps publishing my thoughts isn't a good idea; certainly these thoughts have caused more than one argument. Still, good idea or not, these are some of my thoughts.

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