Farmgate: Blinded by the lights

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Rural night-time drivers now have a new “Get out of my way, NOW” card available to them and it doesn’t involved coloured flashing lights or sirens.

Halogen and LED headlights ensure them the right of way on dark roads every time!

While these ultra-bright headlights are noticeable in town with street lights, commercial lights and other vehicles, outside in the countryside, they are dazzling— and dangerous to others.

Almost two weeks ago, leaving Cornwall about 5:30 p.m. and heading home along the dark Glen Road, I was doing the speed limit when a large vehicle caught up with me as I exited the Glendale subdivision.

His headlights being above the trunk height of my Chevrolet Impala, the halogen/LED lights lit up the inside of my car. Flipping the rear-view mirror did little if anything to alleviate the problem plus, the path his vehicle was tracking allowed his driver’s side lights to reflect in my side mirror and straight into my eyes. Thanks bud, I can’t see a thing!

Right hand over the mirror, I slowed, signaled right and pulled over to allow him to pass, which he did, speeding off to catch the row of red tail lights far ahead of me. One by one they too slowed and signaled, pulling over to allow this impatient driver pass. What an ass!

Carrying on, I made it past three or four oncoming vehicles, also with halogen/LED headlights. Their glaring brightness showed up among other approaching traffic. The latter you can safely drive past. The former become blinding as your vehicles approach and, for an instant, you have zero idea as to where you are on the road.

Fingers crossed, you hope you are still in the middle of your lane.

In a flash, they are past, travelling on to test another driver’s luck while you concentrate on blinking and re-adjusting your eyes to dark roads and regular head lights. It is nice to know someone is enjoying excellent night vision as they head to their destination.

I just wish I had some!

Related

The human eye takes time to adapt to sudden changes in brightness. The eye takes approximately five minutes to adapt from darkness to sunlight while it can take 10 minutes to go from sunlight to darkness. Therefore, after encounters with halogen/LED equipped cars, one is left somewhat incapacitated as your eyes adapt. A not-so-great safety feature for us, so be aware.

Continuing my trip, I endured a second such encounter, except this guy wouldn’t pass. At the stop sign at Kraft Road and County Road 19, I was again dazzled from behind while sitting in my car. With right hand shielding my rear-view mirror and attempting to block the blinding reflection in my side mirror with my left elbow so I could see the road ahead, I misjudged the turn and went in the ditch.

Mr. (or Mrs.) halogen/LED turned right into Williamstown. Were they late for a hockey game? They never stopped but plenty of others did. No damage to me, or my car, which was verified by our local garage, just some difficulty getting out at that angle. Thanks to everyone, including our fire department (woman trapped in a car? Really?), the OPP, CAA and the tow companies.

In retrospect, I should have put my car in park and just sat blinded at the stop sign, forcing the driver behind to go around, however hindsight is always the best.

So, after 54 years, there goes my perfect driving record.

By the way, are you aware that, if you flash your high beams for more than three seconds at an oncoming car in an attempt to remind them to disengage their high beams, you could land up with a ticket? While waiting for the tow truck I asked the OPP officer and he confirmed this is true.

What a crazy world we live in. Power goes to the driver who can see the best.

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