Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sunglasses at Night

Now that we’ve set our clocks back an hour, many commuters, like me, head home in the dark. When the Christmas lights adorn homes and businesses along my route, I rather enjoy the sunless journey home. But there are a few weeks of transition before the lights go up. During that time, a few commuters—at least the ones following me—feel compelled to drive home with their high beams cutting through the darkness. 
Here come the rude high beams.

On a dark county road lacking streetlights, one might need the brighter headlights to illuminate the winding curves ahead. Brighter lights also give a lone driver the edge during a deer encounter. However, on a well-lit interstate or a well-traveled state highway, regular headlight settings work just fine. And when lots of vehicles are on the road traveling in both directions during rush hour, high beams are not only not necessary, they are dangerous and annoying.

When I was learning to drive several decades ago, I was taught that if I could see the taillights of the car in front of me or if a car was approaching from the opposite direction, I was not to use my high beams. During such situations, my father barked at me that I would blind the person in the car in front of or approaching me. Blinding other drivers could cause a horrific accident. Did I want to get us both killed?!? Therefore, unless mine was the only vehicle for miles in either direction, I learned not use my high beams.

Several of my fellow commuters, however, must have been taught differently. Maybe they were told it was perfectly acceptable to use the brightest setting if they couldn’t see well. Maybe they never learned about the effects of high beams on the vehicles around them. Of course, there is the possibility that they are blissfully unaware that other people are in cars and trucks sharing the very same roads at the very same time. Is it possible to purchase a car that only has high beams and no regular-beam option?

Since I have no way to keep strangers in surrounding traffic from using their high beams, I am making good use of the switch on my rearview mirror. I’ve also started wearing my sunglasses. At first, I thought it would be dangerous to wear sunglasses at night. However, after several nights during which I had to hold my left hand up to block the glare from my left side mirror while squinting my right eye to cut down the glare from the right side mirror just to keep intensely vivid lights from burning holes in my retinas, something had to be done. Squinting was partially impairing my field of view. In addition, one can only hold a hand up for so long whilst navigating home without sustaining arm cramps. 

My Corey Hart defense against
high beam abusers.

I decided it might be safer for me to sport a Corey Hart look. I found it’s much easier to push my sunglasses to the top of my head and flip them back down again as needed than it is to manually block the stinging glare. After the oblivious headlight abusing drivers I encountered this week, I’m convinced the lyrics to that great 80’s Corey Hart tune were written right after the autumn time change.


Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, writer, and content strategist is the author of Thurston T. Turtle books. 

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