I don’t do a whole lot of night driving. My vision is fine during the daylight, assuming I am wearing my glasses, but significantly reduced in the dark. And by dark, I mean urban darkness, with lots of lighting and traffic. When I see people driving on unlit highways I have no idea how they do it.
Fortunately, my wife has excellent vision and is a skilled driver. She is kind enough to act as a designated driver after dark.
However, there are those times when I do find myself driving about the city after sunset. Considering that in Montreal at this time of year it is dark by 5:00 pm this should not come as a surprise.
When I was young the high-beams function in most cars was a small silver button on the left side of the floor, just over from the brake or clutch. Now the control is on the steering column, a much better place because most floor buttons got corroded by the salt on drivers’ winter boots and became ineffective in no time. High-beams were used sparingly when sufficient lighting was absent. Oncoming traffic called for the immediate return to normal beams lest the drivers be blinded by the brighter rays of light. It was common courtesy to do so.
But now I find many higher-end vehicles – BMWs, Audis, Lexus – come equipped with HID (High-Intensity Discharge). They can also be installed in any vehicle. While no doubt providing the driver with a wonderful view, they also have the effect of essentially blinding drivers of oncoming cars, much like high-beams. I sometimes feel as if I’m in an old movie being interrogated under a lamp when waiting for a light to change.
In many places, these lights are illegal for fairly obvious reasons, yet very little if any policing is undertaken.
Also, should there be a price on safety? If these HID lights are, indeed, safer for drivers should they not be mandatory on all cars? Air-bags are installed in all cars, not just very expensive models. Ditto for seatbelts.