Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Rainy days and odd motorists

with 5 comments

It’s been quite rainy here this week, but as we say in this part of the country, February showers bring March flowers. Still, driving in the heavy overcast and heavy rain, with poor visibility and wet roads, is no fun.

In California we have a law that requires headlights to be on if (a) visibility is poor and/or (b) the windshield wipers are working. So out on the highway, you see all these cars and trucks driving with their lights on, except every now and then. About 10% left their lights off, in violation of the law.

What was interesting was that, with only a few exceptions, the lights-out vehicles were all pick-up trucks. It was obvious, and it certainly surprised me. The non-truck lights-out vehicles were all enormous SUVs.

The pattern was so clear, I started to wonder at it. It was not all pick-up trucks, by any means. But of those not obeying the law in this situation, virtually all did drive pick-up trucks. Of course, for any given driver one doesn’t know whether the cause is simple ignorance (the Army does have a saying that 10% never get the word) or contempt for the law or a self-perceived act of noble rebellion.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 February 2011 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Daily life

5 Responses

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  1. I’m surprised that California doesn’t have full-time running-lights as standard equipment on all vehicles. It’s been the law in Canada for at least 10 years, and in most of western Europe for 20. I thought the US had adopted it also. It’s been by now so proven to reduce accident that it seems strange it wouldn’t have been required as a mandatory vehicle device, especially in CA with its leading-edge attitude to the environment and safety.

    But I suppose, like seat-belts, helmets, guns, abortion, and breast-feeding….everything seems to turn into a civil-liberties issue! 🙂


    19 February 2011 at 4:55 am

  2. Yes, there’s no doubt of the grave Constitutional danger of making cars whose lights go on automatically. 🙂 My own thought would be to link the windshield wiper switch so that when it goes on, the headlights go on.

    Interesting that you call them “running lights”. I thought they were called “parking lights” and I thought it was a bad idea to use them while driving.

    I’m pretty sure cars here are still resisting this socialistic European idea, but if it had been legislated into cars, pick-ups (being classified as trucks) might escape, as they have escaped other regulations and requirements imposed on cars.


    19 February 2011 at 7:14 am

  3. Running lights are headlights that operate at a slightly lower brightness than regular headlights. It’s really just an additional capability built into the headlights themselves. When you turn on the engine and engage “Drive” they come on. Their safety isn’t linked to rain or bad weather. Studies have shown conclusively that they reduce accidents under all conditions because they make other cars more visible.

    Running lights are the standard around the world….except for America. I can just hear Sarah Palin…….”By God, I treasure the freedom to turn on or not turn on my headlights without intervention from Big Government…God bless America”.

    Could be an interesting blog post if you feel like doing the research 🙂

    Parking lights are the little orange things at the side of the headlights. Their main function is as “hazard lights” when you’re stopped in a danger zone, and of course as signal lights when turning.

    The It’s not good to use running lights” mythology sprang from the early days when car-makers resisted incorporating them into cars because of “extra cost”. The argument was that they used more gas because the engine had to charge the battery more. It’s utter nonsense, even more so today with modern technology. Equivalent to having the radio on while you drive.


    20 February 2011 at 6:36 am

  4. P.S. All vehicles in Canada must have running lights, including trucks.


    20 February 2011 at 6:37 am

  5. Aha. I simply did not know what “running lights” were—I guess because US manufacturers have been so successful, through their tame Congressmembers, at keeping them out of the country and the discussion of them tamped down.

    I sure wish the US was not so much under corporate control.


    20 February 2011 at 7:35 am

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