Dip Don’t Dazzle (And Please PLEASE Use Your Indicators)

With the nights now getting longer I thought it would be a good time to write about a couple of my major problems with some idiots who drive around at night.

The “Dip Don’t Dazzle” part of the title for this blog post came from a Public Service Advert on TV several years ago warning about the dangers of driving with your headlights on full blast at night (especially when approaching oncoming traffic).

The irony is that (as a result of an impromptu experiment as I was waiting for a bus in Leicester city centre one evening as it was about to get dark) I noticed that even a “P” reg car has headlights which are approximately 60 percent dimmer than the current cars (on normal beam).

I realise the main purpose of the external lights on cars is to see and be seen – both at night and during the daytime (particularly in bad weather) – but the current fad for LED lights is driving me mad – pun intended.

A slight diversion if I may – the newest buses I have travelled on recently have got an invention which I would love to see on cars.  The front indicators appear to form part of one of the headlights.  When the indicator is switched on the headlight it is in is switched off.  This makes it really easy for me to see.

I don’t know if anyone has done an experiment with LED lights on cars but my eyes can tell them that an entire line of LED lights can have the same effect as a single floodlight on them.  (As floodlights are usually static the effect of one of those heading towards me at 30 mph could be extremely disorienting – never mind a lot of them. The combination of backlights and brake lights is actually the worst combination in LED format – especially when you add the one you sometimes see in the rear windscreen of very up-to-date cars.)

Very near the beginning of my inkyworld blog I had the opportunity to interview Simon Cole (Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police).  One of the questions I put to him was regarding the Alternate Flashing Headlights on Police cars – in particular whether they could be disconnected at night.

On Facebook recently I asked a question about another thing which I find seriously dangerous (which is actually connected).  Namely the habit some drivers have of attempting to attract my attention by flashing their headlights at me when they are parked.  It would be better if they flashed them “on, off, on” instead of “normal beam, blinding, normal beam”.  I have been known to become so disoriented that I have almost stepped into oncoming traffic without realising it as a result of the latter sequence.

I am going to make a suggestion which may sound totally crazy but I would love it if the nighttime speed limit was drastically reduced on roads with pavements but very little streetlighting.  This would (hopefully) slow the traffic down – as well as reducing the gap between the cars – thus not making my eyes have to repeatedly adapt to changes between bright light and pitch black (usually either in quick succession or with gaps between them which are too small for my eyes to adjust properly).

There are also some idiots on the road who seem to need their steering wheel connected to their indicators.  I am not telepathic – this means I need a clue as to which bit of road, verge, pavement, field, carpark, etc, you intend to drive your vehicle on.  This is so I have some chance of working out my chances of getting cleared up (knocked down, run over, etc) if I attempt to cross the road in my intended direction of travel.  Those orange lights at all four corners of your vehicle are very useful in my calculations.  This is due to the fact they  indicate your intended direction of travel. Especially when they are used properly.

My sight is worse than most people’s – particularly at night.  This means that I will not see any part of your vehicle which is not lit up (the minute someone puts lights on tyres I will be very happy because that way I will be able to see if the wheels are turned in my direction).

I know that Police Officers have a different style of driving (a Twittercop going by the Twitter name of @SgtTCS frightened the life out of me when he did a live audio stream commentary of his journey to work – I was shocked by the amount of times he changed direction without using his indicators) but even they should alert other road (and pavement) users of their intention to change direction.

I realise it might look like I have contradicted myself in this blog post – particularly with regards to the various external lights on your car – some I would like to be dimmer and I would love drivers to make more use of others – but I am merely speaking from my personal experience.

Motorised traffic is not the only thing which uses the road network – pedestrians do too.

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