Driving at night without your headlights on


#1

I can’t help but notice so many people driving at night (especially just after sundown) with no headlights on. This is a serious situation and I believe it is mostly due to modern cars that have their dashboard/instrument clusters lit up constantly. I drove a 2016 Ford Focus and noticed there was barely any difference with the dashboard lights whether the headlights were on or off. That on top of daytime running lights fool drivers into thinking their lights are on. Many cars have automatic headlights, and drivers no longer pay attention to their lights. I think that all cars should have a sensor that beeps at you if it’s dark outside and your lights are off. A simple safety issue and resolution.

However, I still believe that many of the modern safety advances are making drivers very lazy. Who needs a brain anymore to operate a vehicle?


#2

That would not be high on my list of peeves…

I would list: (in no particular order)

  1. Tailgaters. I get very upset when someone tailgates me.
  2. Crossing the white/yellow line. Drivers who always cut the curve short, crossing the yellow or white line.
  3. Driving too fast for conditions. 90% of the drivers seem to do this. Combine that with tailgating and you have the reason for the many multiple car pileups.
  4. Drivers who swing to the right before a left hand turn (and VV)
  5. Drivers who change lanes frequently in an attempt to get ahead in heavy traffic.

#3

We’ve Had This Discussion In The Past.
“Many cars have automatic headlights, and drivers no longer pay attention to their lights.”

Apparently some Fords and others(?) can light the headlights, but no taillights. I don’t know this as fact.

I own 4 GM cars that have automatic lights, set to “on” all the time. They always operate either the front daytime running lights OR all lights, front and rear. They have an uncanny ability to know which ones to operate in all lighting conditions. It’s a thing of beauty and safety.

It would be amazing to be able to calculate how many lives GM has saved over the past several decades of making these lights standard on many (most?) of their vehicles.
CSA


#4

I’ve long believed that the headlights and taillights of all cars should be on whenever the key is in the ON position. DRLs were, IMHO, an added-cost solution to improve visibility that only goes half way and can even make the problem of nighttime visibility worse by fooling the driver into not realizing his/her lights aren’t on. Having all the outside lights on would solve the DRL requirements of those countries that have them, and would also improve visibility at dusk and in fog, both low-visibility conditions that many people don’t turn their lights on for.

I personally always turn my lights on no matter the time of day or weather. I’ll never know how many accidents that might have avoided for me.


#5

Part of the problem is that cars have auto headlights, but out of habit people turn them off and forget that they should be left on.

Some daytime running lights look like the headlights, but they are not as bright, and the parking and tail lights do not operate with those.


#6

…and yet, despite the clear safety advantages of having DRLs, some people have posted questions in this forum regarding how to deactivate their DRLs. IIRC, the stated reason was to “save gas”–as if it would be possible to see a meaningful improvement in fuel economy by turning off the DRLs.

IMHO, the only problem with DRLs is that most of them do not activate the tail lights, and as a result, folks who have little understanding of how their car works will often fail to turn their lights on during periods of poor visibility.


#7

In my state lights are required to be ON from official sunset + 30 minutes to official sunrise - 30 minutes. I just leave mine in auto ON position. Mine have no light/dark sensors so they are always on when I am driving.


#8

With The GM DRLs If Your Dash Lights Are On (Come on automatically in low light situations) Then Your Tail Lights Are On And Headlights Go To Full Power, Too (automatically), Always.
CSA


#9

IMHO DRLs and these automatic on/off systems are all just added-cost substitutes for simply connecting the lighting circuits to the ON position of the key cylinder. Or, for those cars with START buttons, to the “on” circuitry. Whatever happened to the KISS principle?


#10

I find it interesting that Consumer Reports listed one of the disadvantages of some Toyota models is that it is too easy to turn off the daytime running lights. This is true on Sienna I own. I always leave the knob in the DRL position during daylight hours.


#11

My Scion has no separate DRLs, but the lighting automatically turns off when the engine is turned off and the door opened. Thus, leaving the lights in the ON position serves the DRL purpose. And then some.


#12

sgtrock - Not trying to nitpick but saying all lights on 30 minutes before sunset and 30 minutes after sunrise might be a little clearer to some readers.


#13

My Scion has no separate DRLs, but the lighting automatically turns off when the engine is turned off and the door opened. Thus, leaving the lights in the ON position serves the DRL purpose. And then some.”

That is what I do also.
On Subarus, simply turning off the ignition cuts power to the lights.
By leaving my light switch on, I have the added visibility of driving with headlights and tail lights at all times, but there is no risk of running down the battery.


#14
I've long believed that the headlights and taillights of all cars should be on whenever the key is in the ON position.
Gee, they must LOVE you at drive-ins, TSMB.

Point being, there are a few instances where you might want to run your engine without turning your lights on. A drive-in. A star-gazing event (everybody outdoors, cold, but can't afford to ruin night vision). A Christmas-season light extravaganza.

I'd hate to own a car that expressly prohibited me from turning my lights OFF in such situations, as it "knows what's best for me."


#15

Drive-ins? They still have drive-ins?
Question: do you leave your key in the ON position at the drive-in, or do you use the ACC position?


#16
That would not be high on my list of peeves...

I would list: (in no particular order)


  1. Drivers who swing to the right before a left hand turn (and VV)

I agree with most of that list, but really: you cannot imagine why somebody might want/need to do this? Towing a trailer, for one. Bikers, also need to hit all breaks in pavement as close to 90° as possible–that means swinging wide and completing the turn early. As well as anybody who (for whatever reason) wants to take a racing line.


A (four-wheeled) motorist in a lane own ALL of that lane–every [fun] inch if it. It comes across as a bit cheeky, honestly, to take exception to a motorist using all of “his” lane: for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all.


#17

the same mountainbike: KISS principle? You have to realize we are now considered “dinosaurs”. Technology keeps everyone safe and makes everything “idiot proof” which unfortunately tends to create “better” idiots. We grew up with a knob on the dash when pulled to the first detent activated parking lights and pulled all the way out activated the headlights. A high/low beam switch was activated with our left foot. My 2010 Kia with the headlight switch in the ON position turns the lights on when the key activated ignition switch is in the on or run position. I just leave it there. It does not have DRLs. I discovered recently if I leave the key in the ignition in OFF position the parking lights stay on unless I remove the key.


#18

It’s a gang initiation thing doncha know. If you flash your light at them to try and alert them to the fact that their lights are off, they’re supposed to turn around, and come back after you and shoot you.


#19
Drive-ins? They still have drive-ins?

There’s still one in Milford…right down the road from Hitchiner Manufacturing


#20

I like the auto on feature, but that combined with the electronic dash can fool you sometimes. I believe the sun sensor for G’m is more sensitive to lower light levels than some cars. What I do though is just put a cloth over the sensor on foggy days to turn all the lights on without risk of leaving the lights on. I think my vw used to shut the lights off when the engine shut down but the radio still was hot. Kinda dangerous.