Brake Light Dazzle – The Danger of Reduced Vision

Don L. Gates

Brake Lights Dazzle! One of my pet hates as the weather deteriorates and the nights grow longer, is having to sit in a traffic queue behind a driver whose brake lights are burning red spots into my eyeballs. The problem has grown worse since all cars started to feature the extra high-level brake light in the centre. Some people’s eyes are more sensitive to light than others, but anyone who has bright lights in front them, will have the quality of their vision reduced when the surrounding areas are dark, meaning that you could easily miss something (or someone) when you’re subjected to this treatment. One of the main causes of this is poor quality training, brought about by lazy driving instructors who can’t be bothered to teach their pupils the basics of road safety. With the advent of electronic and automatic parking brake systems, the use of the good old-fashioned ‘hand brake’ is slowly being phased out by some car manufacturers, but for the many that still have it, I fail to understand why people have such difficulty in using it. When pulling up in traffic or at a junction, it only takes half a second to apply the brake, and this not only prevents the vehicle from rolling, it also helps prevent you from being pushed forward in a rear-end shunt, and keeps the car secure should you have a lapse of concentration and take your foot from one of the pedals. In an automatic car, it will prevent the vehicle from creeping forward. The added advantage is that you get to relax your feet for a while (ever had aching limbs after a long drive?) For me, using the hand brake takes less effort than constantly pressing on the brake pedal, and also means that I’m not dazzling the poor driver behind. I also don’t need to be constantly replacing my brake light bulbs!

One of my pet hates as the weather deteriorates and the nights grow longer, is having to sit in a traffic queue behind a driver whose brake lights are burning red spots onto my eyeballs. The problem has grown worse since all cars started to feature the extra high-level brake light in the centre. The nuisance of brake light dazzle is widespread, I struggle to understand why so many drivers are oblivious to it.

One person’s eyes might be more sensitive to light than another’s; but anyone who has bright lights in front of them, will have the quality of their vision reduced. When the surrounding areas are dark, this means that something (or someone) could easily be missed when vision is affected.

One of the main causes of brake light dazzle is poor quality training. There are too many driving instructors who can’t be bothered to teach their pupils the basics of road safety.

With the advent of electronic and automatic parking brake systems, the use of the good old-fashioned ‘hand brake’ is slowly being phased out by some car manufacturers. For the many that still have it however, I fail to understand why people have such difficulty in using it.

Use the Parking Brake

When pulling up in traffic or at a junction, it only takes half a second to apply the brake. This not only stops your vehicle from rolling but helps prevent it from being pushed forward in a rear-end shunt. Plus, it keeps the car secure should the driver have a lapse of concentration.

Absent-mindedly taking a foot from one of the pedals is a common fault when queuing. In an automatic car, it will prevent the vehicle from creeping forward. The added advantage is that the driver gets an opportunity to relax the feet for a while. Ever had aching limbs after a long drive?

For me, using the hand brake takes less effort than constantly pressing on the brake pedal, and also means that I’m not dazzling the poor driver behind. I also don’t need to be constantly replacing my brake light bulbs!

It can be difficult enough to see well when driving at night, and this is an extra hazard we could all do without. If brake light dazzle does affect you, avoid looking into them as much as possible by looking slightly to the side so as to minimise the affect. You should also stay further back to help keep your view open.

Need more information about driving at night and in bad weather? Read Don’s book, The Glovebox Guide to Driving at Night & in Bad Weather.

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