Headlamp ignorance: a common problem

Published: 30 December 2009

It’s probably the same every British winter, but the one we’re in the middle of now has been like watching a live Coldplay concert on loop – a perpetual festival of dreariness.

Driving 70 miles to work and then back again every day in the dark/rain/fog/sleet/snow  (perm any three from five) certainly concentrates the mind. It also increases the rage, because driving standards in this country seem to be tumbling by the day.

Middle/outside lane hoggers. Grrrr. Mobile phone users. Arrrgh! My current bug bear is drivers who only switch on their headlights when absolutely necessary. Maybe it’s because I have a child now, but you can guarantee that the decrepit council charabanc up your backside is <sans lit>. And this despite the hordes of schoolkids scurrying across the nation’s High Streets to grab an Egg McMuffin before assembly.

Everyone knows about Sweden’s rules about driving with sidelights on, courtesy of the thousands of Volvos and Saabs on the UK’s roads. Hungary and Canada have similar laws to the Swedes, as do most of the Baltic nations. In Italy headlights are required from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise outside urban areas.

In the US, many states, including Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia, operate a law whereby headlights must be switched on if you’re using your windscreen wipers or you risk a fine. There’s surely no argument here, is there? Headlights help you get seen.

It’s time we considered adopting laws similar to the Italians (who’d have thought that!?), not least because a by-product will be that drivers will start their thinking process the moment they start their vehicles. For once, I'm in agreement with the Eurocrats.

You see, the European Commission has quietly set in motion directive 2008/89/EC,which decrees that all new cars must have daytime running lights by 2011. It's like a rewind back to the 1980s when all Volvos had lights permanently stuck on.

Not switching your lights on is indicative of a motorist driving on autopilot. And they’re the most dangerous drivers on our roads.

Now it seems like we're all about to be blinded by the lights.


By Stephen Worthy