June 02, 2015
Driving a car isn’t necessarily easy. First there’s all of the rules of the road, the signs, and the lines. Then on top of that you have to master all of the technicalities within the car. Shifting, accelerating, braking, signaling and loads of other things means drivers have to know what they’re doing. So anyone would assume that car manufacturers have made the simple features such as the radio, the lights, climate control, etc. super easy to use and impossible to screw up. However when it comes to cars’ exterior lighting, there is still a large hole in its functionality that many drivers exploit both intentionally and by mistake.
If you’re a driver, you know that your headlights have about four different settings: off, day-time lights, night-time lights, and high beams. My beef has to do with the day-time function. To start off, we know that the primary purpose for headlights are to illuminate the road in front of the driver so they can drive safely. However, headlights also improve safety by ensuring that other drivers will be able to see a car coming from the opposite direction. Thus the reason taillights are important is to ensure that drivers coming up behind a car will be able to see it in front of them.
There is no issue when drivers use their night-time lights when they’re supposed to, however human error, ignorance and/or laziness has given rise to the day-time lights driver who can’t be bothered to engage their full night-time lights even in the middle of the night. This means that not only are their headlights not illuminating the road ahead, but that their taillights are not on for other drivers to see them. This is a rear-end collision waiting to happen. This problem has been made worse by the rise of LED ambient day-time lights on luxury cars which do nothing but show off that the driver has some money. As a result, many drivers cruise around at night, in the rain, or other hazardous situations with nothing more than some useless twinkling headlights, making themselves a large moving hazard to other drivers.
Either day-time running lights also need to engage the taillights, be automatically restricted, or they should be removed altogether. If day-time lights engaged the taillights, the problem is solved and the only thing left to tackle is why people don’t use their night-time lights at night (come on people, street lamps aren’t that bright). If day-time lights could be automatically restricted by the car’s software so that the only time the taillights aren’t engaged is when the car is at a complete stop…but this is useless so you might as well sync the headlights to the taillights. Finally, day-time lights could be wiped out completely. I see day-time lights as nothing more than a gimmick that luxury brands have exploited. Perhaps a practical reason to use them is when there is a very light fog on the ground or if you’re waiting outside a house at night and don’t want to wake up the neighborhood, but beyond that drivers should be using their full night-time lights.