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Old July 12th, 2010, 06:47 PM   #1
Penn's Woods
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Headlights on with oncoming traffic

[Moderators: I couldn't find an existing topic that would cover this. If there is one to fold it into, please do so.]

At one point in Maryland I pass through regularly (a two-by-two undivided stretch of US 1 bypassing Bel Air) signage appeared about a year ago ordering people to turn on their headlights. The first sign says something like "two-way traffic - headlights required," so clearly the fact that there's two-way traffic at relatively high speed (the limit's 55 m.p.h., I think) is their rationale for doing this. (Then there are signs threatening fines if you don't turn your lights on...and at the end an "End mandatory headlight use.")

Had never seen this anywhere else until yesterday, when I came across the same phenomenon on US 15 between Leesburg, Virginia, and its junction with US 340 (where 15 becomes a freeway) near Frederick, Maryland. On both the Virginia and Maryland stretches.

So now I'm mildly curious - is this a Maryland novelty that's starting to spread? Something that's been normal in other parts of the U.S., or other countries, for years?

It would be unnecessary in Canada, I imagine, with most cars having running liights....
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Old July 12th, 2010, 07:31 PM   #2
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you probably know (but maybe even not) that many European countries have mandatory using headlights 24h/day, no matter what geographical coordinates it is about
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Old July 12th, 2010, 08:29 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penn's Woods View Post
[Moderators: I couldn't find an existing topic that would cover this. If there is one to fold it into, please do so.]

At one point in Maryland I pass through regularly (a two-by-two undivided stretch of US 1 bypassing Bel Air) signage appeared about a year ago ordering people to turn on their headlights. The first sign says something like "two-way traffic - headlights required," so clearly the fact that there's two-way traffic at relatively high speed (the limit's 55 m.p.h., I think) is their rationale for doing this. (Then there are signs threatening fines if you don't turn your lights on...and at the end an "End mandatory headlight use.")

Had never seen this anywhere else until yesterday, when I came across the same phenomenon on US 15 between Leesburg, Virginia, and its junction with US 340 (where 15 becomes a freeway) near Frederick, Maryland. On both the Virginia and Maryland stretches.

So now I'm mildly curious - is this a Maryland novelty that's starting to spread? Something that's been normal in other parts of the U.S., or other countries, for years?

It would be unnecessary in Canada, I imagine, with most cars having running liights....
I did a US-roadtrip this spring and I saw signs like that all over the country.
It's a good start, but IMO there should be a law forcing people to have their headlights on 24/7, just like in Europe.
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Old July 12th, 2010, 08:30 PM   #4
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you probably know (but maybe even not) that many European countries have mandatory using headlights 24h/day, no matter what geographical coordinates it is about
I didn't know that. The first time I drove in Canada (1988) I noticed a lot of people driving with lights on. For that matter, you'd see it on cars in the U.S. with Canadian plates. I later learned that it wasn't a matter of Canada requiring people to turn their lights on at all times, but new cars sold in Canada needed to have "running lights" (headlights that go on whenever the engine's on, perhaps not as brightly as they do at night). There are times it can be useful to know whether a car facing toward you is parked or moving (if it's in the right lane so that either explanation is plausible).
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Old July 12th, 2010, 08:46 PM   #5
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Technically, Canada started requiring DRL's (daylight running lamps) starting in 1990, but I guess a lot of cars before that already had them. They are usually implemented by re-using the high beams, but lighting them at a lower intensity, though several designs exist. Similar laws exist in Scandinavian countries.

I find them really useful, because they definitely increase safety and make cars more visible during low-contrast weather conditions (for example, when it's very cloudy or foggy).

Some people complain about excess glare (I believe that was one of the reasons a certain experiment with DRL's failed in the US, though I can't recall where I read about it), but I've never had any issues with glare despite the fact that virtually all cars here are equipped with them.
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Old July 12th, 2010, 08:48 PM   #6
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I went to Spain in 2008 and I didn't see every car with headlights turned on, but I did see that every car had a little light bulb in the headlight that was always on, presumably to keep people from mistaking a car with a headlight out for a motorcycle at night. (The USA accomplishes that with amber running lights in front, which are apparently not required in Europe)

Some cars in the USA are sold with DRL too - my uncle's Prius has no headlight switch, they're always on (it does have a high-beam switch). Also, with the 2001-series Chevy Silverado/Suburban/Tahoe, there are a pair of bright DRLs under the headlights, next to the turn signals - one thing I hate (HATE!) is when people replace those clear bulbs with amber ones, it looks ... bad. Please slash the tires of any truck you see that people have done this to.
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Old July 12th, 2010, 09:30 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TheCat View Post
Technically, Canada started requiring DRL's (daylight running lamps) starting in 1990, but I guess a lot of cars before that already had them. They are usually implemented by re-using the high beams, but lighting them at a lower intensity, though several designs exist. Similar laws exist in Scandinavian countries.

I find them really useful, because they definitely increase safety and make cars more visible during low-contrast weather conditions (for example, when it's very cloudy or foggy).

Some people complain about excess glare (I believe that was one of the reasons a certain experiment with DRL's failed in the US, though I can't recall where I read about it), but I've never had any issues with glare despite the fact that virtually all cars here are equipped with them.
I made several trips to Canada between 1988 and '93 (then it was another ten years before I crossed the border); I may be wrong about observing the phenomenon in '88. I think I read about the running-light requirement in a Canadian newspaper I picked up up there.

I knew they did running lights in Sweden too; and have noticed that lots of Saabs and Volvos in the U.S. have them. Cars sold in the U.S. have offered them as an option for a decade or so.
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Old July 12th, 2010, 09:40 PM   #8
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Many German cars now also have standard LED lights on. You can always notice them from a distance. I like that concept.

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Old July 12th, 2010, 09:43 PM   #9
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Many German cars now also have standard LED lights on. You can always notice them from a distance. I like that concept.

I don't like that look at all, just from an esthetic point of view.
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Old July 13th, 2010, 03:53 PM   #10
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I don't like that look at all, just from an esthetic point of view.
I agree, I much prefer them to be in more of a straight line, and not look like individual dots, but rather a single line along the base of the lights. I don't like ring-lights around the headlights of some BMWs either, very ugly.

I have also seen an Audi with incandescent lights like that, too - I'd thought they were only available as LEDs, but apparently not. Maybe a cheaper option package?
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Old July 14th, 2010, 04:25 AM   #11
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I took out my DRL module in my car when I was looking for a problem but I always have some sort of lights on while driving on a highway it helps people notice you better.
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Old July 14th, 2010, 11:39 AM   #12
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Those LED's on Audi's rule! The only thing that is going to hurt is when one of those bulbs goes out...well....its going to be very expensive to replace with a new one. But then again Euro cars are the best and the best never comes cheap.
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Old July 14th, 2010, 01:49 PM   #13
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LEDs will go on forever, the chances for one of them failing is minimal. And EVERYTHING in an Audi is expensive - if you want a cheap maintenance buy a Dacia :P

Back on topic - in Poland until couple of years ago headlights were mandatory only in October-March period, now the new law requires you to keep them on all time. I like this behaviour for three reasons - in densely packed downtown streets it's easier to see which car is on the move and which one is parked, it's easier to spot an oncoming car when you're crossing/joining a priority road and it's handy when the weather is crappy (before the new law it was mandatory to use the lights in bad weather conditions as well, but surprisingly large percentage of drivers didn't bother to turn them on)
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Old July 14th, 2010, 04:39 PM   #14
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Virginia only requires headlights on in road tunnels, whenever you're using your windshield wipers, and at night.
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Old July 14th, 2010, 06:06 PM   #15
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it's not only about German cars, worldwide producers force using LED lights. personally, i find them ugly and rednecked, but are usefull definitely
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Old July 14th, 2010, 06:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shifty2k5 View Post
I did a US-roadtrip this spring and I saw signs like that all over the country.
It's a good start, but IMO there should be a law forcing people to have their headlights on 24/7, just like in Europe.
It's indeed very helpful, not in cities, though. Not necessary IMHO.
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Old July 14th, 2010, 06:51 PM   #17
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Quote:
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I find them really useful, because they definitely increase safety and make cars more visible during low-contrast weather conditions (for example, when it's very cloudy or foggy).
I almost had a head-on once in superb weather in a summer daytime. I was overtaking, the car on the opposite lane was perfectly the color of the pavement, and I was kind of blinded by the intensity of the sunshine that I noticed the coming car quite late.

It would have been much more visible if there were lights on.
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Old July 14th, 2010, 06:58 PM   #18
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That's why, when I get my own car, I'd prefer it to be white or blue.

(Or, if I'm still working for the Guvmint, I might end up getting a black Tahoe...what with that being the stereotypical vehicle of the Guvmint)
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Old July 14th, 2010, 07:44 PM   #19
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Some people complain about excess glare (I believe that was one of the reasons a certain experiment with DRL's failed in the US, though I can't recall where I read about it), but I've never had any issues with glare despite the fact that virtually all cars here are equipped with them.
Car manufacturers lobbied to make DRL's mandatory in the U.S. because of the economic savings of making the same system for both the U.S. and Canada. It had nothing to do with safety but with money.

I understand that there could be some supposed benefit in DRL's in a place with bad weather and low visibility, but not in places with clear conditions. I had a Volvo that was equipped with permanently-on lights and I didn't know that I could have opted to have them turned off at delivery. The result was that I had to replace the bulbs every few months. LED loghts, like Audi's look very kitschy and cheap, but they do meke the car visible with low consumption of electricity and long life.

Last edited by El Tiburon; July 14th, 2010 at 07:58 PM.
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Old July 14th, 2010, 07:51 PM   #20
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I always have my lights on and never had to replace one in the last 45,000 kilometers.
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