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Rutledge: To the high beams behind me: Chinese headlight torture to you, too

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

I often fantasize about mounting a headlight from a jetliner to the bed of my pickup truck and aiming it backward. The dream is of boiling the eyeballs of every dimwitted driver that gets behind me with bright lights blazing.

I am of the opinion that headlights, even on low-beam, are becoming brighter. My wife is of the opinion that I am becoming a crotchety old man with sensitive eyes.

She’s right, but headlights are brighter I tell you. It seems I am blinded by every other car in the oncoming lane, and by even more cars approaching from the rear.

Sometimes I think the bright headlights have weakened my defenses against the sun. Sharon makes fun of me when I wear my huge sunglasses designed to fit over prescription glasses.

“You already sit around with a tissue in your hand like a little old man,” she said to me during summer, when she keeps the thermostat at “meat locker.” “Must you wear senior citizen sunglasses, too?”

Yes. And if my own headlights were not so dim, I would wear them while driving at night — to quiet the road rage within.

I have an aunt who once forgot to remove her over-glasses sunglasses after night fell during a road trip. She thought something was wrong with the headlights on her car. It’s a long story, but she drove that way for hours all the way home.

My aunt didn’t mean to drive at night with sunglasses on, but her experience proves that it can be done by people other than rock stars.

I have an hour commute to and from work. This is the time of year when the drive is in the dark both ways. If it’s not the sun in your eyes during summer, it’s bright headlights during winter. The sun I can dim.

I tried slipping on my over-glasses shades, and it worked fine as long as there was a semi on my tail burning high beams. My little creampuff pickup is a ’96 Chevy with nearly 200,000 miles. It works too hard at keeping all six cylinders pumping to worry about how bright the headlights are burning.

When someone blinds me from the rear, they get a good chuckle when I flip on my “brights” as they go around me. It’s like hitting back with parking lights.

“Take that, you lowdown inconsiderate!

The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen was in the news last week for a new “eye-for-an-eye” law against burning high beams in the city. Violators are made to sit and stare into their own high-beam headlights for five minutes. Good.

That is exactly what I think we should do with American violators. Sit them down and make them stare into their own bright lights until they cannot see where they are going.

Then turn them loose to walk in heavy traffic — in Shenzhen, China.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com.

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