We’ve all been there. It’s pitch black out as we roll down an endless stretch of road. Our headlights are the only beacon of light as we navigate a darkness so thick, we could cut it with a knife.
But those headlights merely push the darkness aside a few feet, unless we turn on our brights.
Our brights act as searchlights guiding us forward, illuminating the path before us in blinding white light, and there’s nothing wrong with their usage- so long as there’s nobody on the other side of the road whose vision is being sacrificed so you can enjoy a sea of light.
The good news is that most people who use their brights are considerate enough to switch them off when another driver is coming their way, but the lingering problem is that too many drivers think their brights don’t begin to affect the other driver’s vision until they’re within a couple hundred feet.
This piece is intended to clear up any misconceptions: your brights are blinding the very minute your headlights come into view, and the human eye is quite amazing in that it can detect the faint flicker of a candlelight from around 1.7 miles away according to MIT Technology Review.
I have found that many night drivers, in an act of well-intentioned consideration, switch off their brights about five seconds before we cross paths on the road.
By that point their brights have already been seared into my vision to the point where I’ve significantly reduced my speed and hoped for nothing unexpected to find itself in the road before me in my moment of vulnerability.
There’s nothing more unsafe than rolling down a road with no idea what’s ahead of you thanks to the guy with the high beams shooting toward you with such intensity you’re convinced you’re witnessing the Second Coming of Christ.
Drivers need to understand that their brights have tremendous range, and while most drivers use their high beams to make the road safer for themselves and to increase their visual range on the dark roads of rural Michigan, they create unsafe environments for drivers by impairing the vision of others navigating the darkness.
The solution is for people to be more mindful of their high beams and turn them off when other vehicles’ headlights come into view, but sometimes just telling someone to be mindful is not enough, and there is a plethora of drivers on the road who just aren’t courteous.
An alternate solution to the high beams issue is to show the other driver what your own high beams can do.
When they shine their brights at you like British searchlights during the Blitz, flick yours on to let them know that you’re being blinded, and let them know that it’s time for them to switch theirs off.
Communicate to them in the one way you can that their high beams are taking away one of your most vital senses. Once they do, flick yours off as well until the two of you finally cross one another and go off on your merry ways.
Driving at night makes one feel as if they’re blinded by darkness, and the only thing worse is the blindness of the scintillating high beams that seem to shoot through and out the back of the retina itself.
Making drivers more aware of the sheer distance their high beams have the capability to blind people from will foster more compassionate and courteous driving so long as we drivers are willing to see things from other drivers’ perspectives.
We must realize that we can light the way for others, and we can do so without blinding them
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