Heres’ the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Daniel asks: I’m noticing more drivers forgetting to turn on the headlights during night time driving. But then I see from my perch the instrument panel is lit up and yet it’s only the daytime running lights that are on. With the panel lit up the driver is thinking the headlights are on. And doesn’t know either way because the streetlights brighten the road plenty. After awhile I stopped getting the driver’s attention to his headlights. You’ll see the car’s ass is dark and the front has the DRL on. Safety has turned on its head. I don’t trust technology to hold my hand – one reason for buying a 1998 Dodge B3500. It’s young enough for OBD2 and old enough to not be complicated. I changed out my starter in the AutoZone parking lot avoiding the nuisance of a core charge and saved $200 doing it myself.
My reply: Amen.
I don’t wish for a return to hand-cranking engines, but “convenience” has run amok. It’s not physically or mentally taxing to turn on headlights. It’s a good thing, I think, to expect drivers to be conscious of changing conditions and expected to turn on their car’s lights as conditions warrant. This fosters alert driving, situational awareness. Which is the most important saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety feature there is.
But it is one that’s been undermined by automating practically everything in new cars, including headlights.
Almost all new cars have automated headlights and DRLs. So the driver becomes used to not thinking about his headlights and so doesn’t take action to turn them on (or off) in accordance with changing conditions.
And you may also have noticed that high beam glare is a worse problem now than it used to be because most new cars will also turn them on automatically (and constantly). The system will also turn them off when it “senses” oncoming traffic. But the system often doesn’t “sense” oncoming traffic as quickly as an alert human driver could have and – more importantly, a human driver (assuming good vision) would not be turning on his brights constantly but only when conditions warranted. According to his judgment.
Driving is becoming immensely frustrating – and less safe – because of all this “safety.”
. . .
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