Your opinion please Many of the newer cars and some...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

Your opinion please. Many of the newer cars and some of the classier imports have an extra set of lights mounted under the front bumper. When one of these multi-lighted beasts approaches--especially on a two lane road--it's hard to tell whether it's an oncoming car or a 727 with its landing lights on. When and where should these lights be used? And wouldn't common sense dictate that they be turned off for oncoming traffic just like bright lights? Thanks for your ruling.

RAY: They certainly should be turned off for oncoming cars, Herb. In fact, they should never be on AT ALL in trafficked areas. They're really supposed to be for dark, deserted, unlit stretches of know, like you would find in certain sections of New York City.

TOM: And they're great for that. I've used them on dark roads, and they really allow you to see where you otherwise could not.

RAY: The problem is that people have come to use them as decoration. And that's unfortunate.

TOM: There are several other problems with these driving lights. First, they're not regulated like headlights. So there are no controls on how they're positioned or aimed. They're often installed by do-it-yourselfers, which compounds that problem.

RAY: And even the ones that are professionally installed hang down on or under the front bumper and get knocked around by snow banks, curbstones, and road kill, and then end up pointing in all sorts of directions--usually right at the eyes of oncoming drivers.

TOM: So we urge all of our readers who have driving lights to show some courtesy. First of all, make sure your lights are aimed correctly. And second, don't even turn them on unless you're driving on a deserted road, far away from other traffic.

RAY: And those who don't have driving lights can help get the message across by flashing your bright lights at anyone who approaches you with driving lights on. Just a quick flash...don't go too far, or they may be blinded and crash into you.

TOM: Right. They may or may not understand why you're flashing at them, but giving them a quick zap with your high beams will make you feel a little better anyway.

TOM: Hey, guys. Don't get mad at us if we can't respond to every letter you send us. We're doing the best we can.

RAY: Isn't that depressing!

TOM: Seriously, we answer as many questions as we can each week here in the column. So if you've sent in a question, keep reading. We hope to get to your question--or a question just like it--some time soon. Thanks.

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