Blinded by the headlights

Houston McLauryOpinion Columnist

The modern world brings a multitude of wonders into people’s lives thanks to the advantages of modern technology. Items from phones to microwaves have changed lives in drastic ways, some improving life, while others tend to hold people down. One of these inventions that holds us down is the LED headlight. This light, straight from the fiery furnace, has ruined a multitude of drivers’ nights, due to the strength of the light and the people that often drive these types of cars. 

Take, for example, my own experience with these vehicular lamps from hell. Heading back to campus one night, I was enjoying my drive down Highway 169, the Minnesota River as my companion. I kept my eyes on the road, listening to a steady and calming song that eased my nerves as I drove into the night. Then, the music changed. A suspenseful piece, building upon my anxiety as I stopped at a red light. It was at that light that I saw it in the mirror behind me, about a mile off: a light as bright as the sun racing towards my car, its metal grill-like teeth, hungry to consume my car and my soul. 

In an instant, the light blinded my vision, thanks to my mirrors reflecting the light directly into my eyes. And as I kept driving down that stretch of highway, I had to lean back and into my chair, adjusting myself to avoid the gaze of light that haunted my vision. Eventually, the car passed me, and with my vision restored I thought I would finally be able to enjoy my drive again. But alas, as the blinding white faded from my retinas I saw the most horrid of sights. On the opposite side of the road, every few minutes, there were more vehicles from the underworld, like locusts swarming the highway and ensuring I was never without light.

Through my horrid experience of night-time driving is my first issue with this invention: the light. The light from these new LED headlights is noticeably different from the ones of old. Instead of emitting a calming yellow light that only gets into a person’s eyes if they look directly at the light, these LED headlights come in a sterilized white color. These lights cover a wide range and extend farther than necessary, and this is the main reason why I have become a vehement opponent of these headlights. In a terrible way, these lights act as a constant high beam activated on these cars, and while high beams are useful in some situations, there’s no need for them to always be on. 

On another occasion while on Highway 169, I ran into the other trouble with this blessing from the modern age. The people that drive these vehicles are needlessly aggressive while on the road. In the winter, I like to drive a bit slower after fresh snow, yet as I was going the speed limit, a Toyota started to tailgate me. Again, the lights from before caused me to sink into my chair as I was forced to speed up. An important factor to note is that there was not a soul in the left lane. This person decided not to move over and pass me, but to sit there for the drive, tailgating and blinding me as I tried to get back to campus. 

Now, of course, not all cars with LED headlights drive like this, and I am sure only a few intentionally tailgate someone. However, the fact of the matter stands that these headlights, whether inadvertently or not, harm people’s ability to see on the road, not only from the same side of traffic but on the opposite side as well. So, what is to be done? The reasonable and rational person might suggest regulations or laws. Putting into effect laws that determine how strong these lights can be, and at what intensity they can legally be on the road. And, while yes, there are laws and regulations on certain headlights, I think more of these will better address the issue of these horrible headlights. This is a reasonable, and rational solution, to a reasonable problem.

I am not a reasonable man. Nor am I rational. The idea to solve this problem through the law is fine, however, I think there would be benefits in bringing back older punishments. The punishment that will work best is that of the stockade and the tomato. Having these offending drivers get humiliated through the throwing of tomatoes may serve as enough of a deterrent to offset the number of LED vehicles out there on the roads today. Getting rid of these LED headlights will help keep the roads safer, and the eyes of drivers across the country safe.

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