Night Driver Nightmare

I’m driving to work in the early morning. Like before-sunrise early. Like all-the-cars-still-have-their-brights-on early. (sigh) Would it kill these commuters to use dimmer headlights, or lower their suspension a foot or two? I mean, I know it’s dark, and all, but a man shouldn’t have to wear sunglasses to protect his eyes from headlights! Lemme ‘splain.

When a truck or SUV turns on its lights, and then drives up close behind a car shorter than it, the headlights shine directly into the mirrors of the car’s driver, effectively preventing him from using said mirrors, thus increasing the likelihood that he will pay less attention to the vehicle behind him, and perhaps stay in the passing lane for 20 miles while doing 54 mph just so the searchlight-equipped trucks will pass him and leave him the heck alone in the dark to drive to work in peace! Sorry. I deal with this almost 5 days a week, and it starts to get to me after a while. (twitch)

You’d think the back roads would be better, but it’s almost worse. People turn on their brights and forget they can turn them off, so they come over the hill, where you have to be looking while driving towards them, and – BAM! – brights in your eyes, at the precise moment you need to distinguish between the road and, say, a tree coming at you at 50 mph. I start to brace myself sometimes, like I’m at a family reunion and the women want pictures of everyone. “Say cheese!” FLASH! And now you’re blind in several spots for minutes, and Aunt Vespa’s gray hair looks neon puce.

And I think the collision repair shops, optometrists, insurance companies, and headlight manufacturers have all conspired to make standard headlights harsher and brighter than ever before. I approach a major highway each morning, dutifully dimming my lights before joining the coffee-energized, rat-race depressed, late-for-work desperate melee of traffic on the road to see who can get to their exit first and drive slowest afterwards. When I crest the hill a half-mile from said highway, I get the pleasure of seeing the brightness of a searchlight pierce me from a mile away, as the commuter coming the opposite direction approaches the same highway in his much newer vehicle, which has bulbs rejected from the LED strings of Christmas lights that probably cause seizures in small dogs and senior citizens. He’s always there at the same time I am, and he always has his lights aimed straight into my eyes, and I always get to the highway before him. I can’t help but wonder how much his new vehicle is worth, if my ’95 honda beats him to the highway with dimmer lights five days a week.

At least I don’t have to fight the semis. They probably wouldn’t even see me until they squished me like a tin can. I do have to fight the techno-sleepers. I call them this because they have cell phones in one hand (which presumably have important information, though not important enough to stop the vehicle to actually concentrate on it) and a coffee cup in the other. I’m not sure how they steer, because they don’t use their feet for the accelerator. At least, that’s all I can figure. See, they fly by me at 90mph as I do 73 in the 65 zone, because, let’s face it, I’m a slow driver, and unless you speed at least 20 mph above the posted speed limit, you’re not really serious about getting to work. But then, several miles later, they must check their phone with one hand, work the stereo or GPS with the other, and steer with one foot while drinking powerful stimulants with the other, or something, because they suddenly don’t care that  they are travelling at 57mph in a 65 zone. I don’t get it. I pass them, taunting their vehicles from the privacy of my own mind.

That coffee must be really good. Or maybe the phone is really loud, or the steering wheel is really stuck, or the dashboard suddenly needs a good cleansing. Whatever. The point is, they don’t pay attention to their speed. Much. Except when they hit the hyperdrive for seconds at a time. I laugh, because I usually pass all of them at least once  on my 15 mile drive into work each day, and then I have to drive around them because they not only don’t pay attention to themselves, they don’t pay attention to other cars. They get random fits of speed, possibly due to the powerful stimulants they drink or the random contacts from people on the phone. Just another good reason to ignore your phone while driving. The multi-ton speeding vehicles around you whose drivers are ingesting barely-legal stimulants and distracted by technological trinkets are a far greater concern than your teenager who can’t find their homework. At least, I think so. But I drink cheap coffee, own a dinosaur cell phone, and homeschool my kids, so perhaps your needs are different. I just want to get to work in one piece and keep my eyesight until I retire. Is that too much to ask? What? The speed limit isn’t 65?  When did that change? Who’s the idiot…


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