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Thread: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

  1. #1

    Default New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    So, I just got back from driving half way across the country a couple weeks ago. We also recently had a snow storm of sorts in my area, and my wife said this during the storm:

    People just aren't turning off their high beams.

    Even on divided highway, where the only barrier between directions of traffic were the concrete barriers, people just aren't dimming their high beams. It wasn't everyone, but I'll bet it was close to 30%. I also had several people come up behind me on the highway with high beams on, in traffic. Even with (legal) window tint and the rear view mirror flipped up, it was very distracting.

    This was much more rampant near home than it was elsewhere. I noticed it this year a lot more than even the cheap HID kits.

    But, I do have a question. What's the typical accepted distance before high beams become too bright to other cars? What about separation of highway, the divided highway with significant medians? Is that enough separation to avoid distracting other drivers?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Not sure where you are, but PA says you have to dim high beams 300' behind vehicles, and 500' for oncoming vehicles. So 1 1/2 football fields away+ you legally have to dim the high beams. Some people are just rude, and I honestly think some people are either not smart enough or unaware that the high beams are on. Did I say that?

  3. #3

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    I always turn them off at least a quarter mile away from the other car, no matter if it's a divided road, wide median, etc. On a dark road, any light shined up high is that much more intense. Unless if there's a huge barrier between us where I know they wouldn't be affected by it, then I won't turn them off but that's a pretty rare case. Yeah, it sucks that road etiquette isn't as practiced as it used to be, but that's just spilled milk. You just have to deal with it.
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  4. #4
    Flashaholic* Launch Mini's Avatar
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    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    I dim mine as soon as I see oncoming headlights, or it I can see any tail lights in front of me.
    This is on of my pet peeves too. Sometimes I feel like shining a flashlight at them as they go by, but pretty sure that isn't Kosher.

  5. #5

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    I noticed that too. Not sure what it is recently, but even have the high beams on at dawn/dusk and during the day. I fugured most of these people would be old as they have a hard time seeing, but that is not always the case. I flash my highs back at them and most of the time they dim them, not sure if that is considered rude or not but it gets the point across. I was doing it with fog lights, but people just didnt get it.

  6. #6

    Shrug Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by iroc409 View Post
    But, I do have a question. What's the typical accepted distance before high beams become too bright to other cars?
    I think most states specify it in their motor vehicle law. For example, in Maine: "2. Dimming. When a vehicle equipped with multiple-beam road lights approaches an oncoming vehicle within 500 feet or follows a vehicle within 300 feet, the operator shall dim the headlights or switch to a low beam and shall turn off a fog light allowed by section 1909-A, unless the fog light was installed by the vehicle manufacturer at the time the vehicle was originally manufactured." (Title 29-A MRSA, §2067.)

    That section doesn't address divided highways, so I s'pose technically one should dim for any oncoming vehicle. I usually do, even on the Interstate.

    I don't know if there's any "national standard" for it. I checked the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances (NCUTLO) site, and they don't seem to have anything on motor vehicle headlights.

    Some people forget to dim, but sometimes it seems like there are a lot of self-important jackasses on the road, who don't think they should have to observe the law and/or common courtesy.

  7. #7

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    I've always pretty much gone with if you can see headlights (or the aura coming over the hill) or tail lights, dim the high beams. But, I've sometimes had people with high beams following me at a great distance with high beams and it was not bothersome--which is why I ask. Some of those long highway stretches are awfully dark with the "see lights" rule.

  8. #8

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Train_Watchman View Post
    there are a lot of self-important jackasses on the road, who don't think they should have to observe the law and/or common courtesy.
    Unfortunately, this is becoming much more the case in every aspect of our society these days. So, I guess it should not be unexpected.

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* mvyrmnd's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Launch Mini View Post
    I dim mine as soon as I see oncoming headlights, or it I can see any tail lights in front of me.
    This is on of my pet peeves too. Sometimes I feel like shining a flashlight at them as they go by, but pretty sure that isn't Kosher.
    That's how I do it too. I was always taught "if you can see their lights, turn yours down"

  10. #10

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    The variability of answers in this thread illustrates a real problem in the US/Canada. Many of the answers so far recommend switching to low beam at a longer distance than is necessary to avoid dangerous glare. The driver who dims prematurely is doing himself a great disservice as far as safety is concerned; properly-aimed U.S. low beams cannot provide adequate seeing distance for speeds greater than about 40 to 45 miles per hour. Most of us speed along much faster than that with low beams. Not as much of a problem on a controlled-access freeway with less chance of an encounter with an animal (or whatever) and lots of cars in front of you to extend the effective seeing range, but using low beams when not in traffic and driving faster than 40 is really unsafe.

    But so is waiting to dim until the other vehicle is too close.

    Every US state and every Canadian province has its own laws regarding when you must dim from high to low beam. These are expressed in terms of distance to a leading or oncoming vehicle, and were set before the maximum allowable high beam intensity (regulated at the Federal/national level) was doubled in 1978. When that happened, the dimming distances to prevent blinding oncoming and leading motorists should have been increased. Most states have 500 foot (oncoming), 200 foot (leading) dimming distances specified in their laws. Because the illumination at the eye is proportional to the lamp's intensity and inversely proportional to the square of the distance, a solid estimate can be made for how laws should have been changed. If 500/200 feet were deemed to be acceptable for the pre-1978 headlamps, then for the 1978-up headlamps the distances should have been changed to 700/280 feet, and for today's highest-intensity lamps the distances should be 970/390 feet. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Federal DOT) and its Canadian equivalent Transport Canada, can alter headlamp technical specifications but cannot alter state/provincial use-of-lights regulations, nor can those national agencies compell state/provincial lawmakers to change the rules regarding dimming distances.

    So if you want the highest chance of being legal without looking up the rule for each state/province you drive in, then change from high to low beam when within 500 feet of an oncoming car, or 200 feet of a leading car. If you want to be maximally safe, then about 800 feet (oncoming) or 300 feet (leading).

    Most of us have no real sense of what any of these distances look and feel like, so get some practice during the day and night: watch the odometer and get a sense of how much distance/time passes by in 0.1 mile (roughly 500 feet). Before long doing this, you'll be able to pick a point ahead and peg it as being about 0.1 mile (~500 feet) away. One and a half tenths will give you roughly 800 feet for oncoming drivers. Use half a tenth when figuring out when to dim for a vehicle ahead of you in your same direction.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    In Australia you're required to be on Low Beam if there's a car 200 metres in front - whether travelling towards you or away from you.

    This car is the first with HID on Low Beam and the cutoff is so sharp it can be a safety hazard - if the road goes uphill, there's absolutely no light on it and I have to flick on the High Beams briefly to check if there's anything on the road - even if there's a car in range.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    A chronic problem here is people leaving Foglights on permanently - here it's illegal to have on more than two lights when required to be on Low Beam (a car within 200 metres).

    The Variable Message Signs frequently state it's illegal to use Foglights except in poor visibility, but it seems to have little effect. Do all cars have Dash Indicators that Foglights are on ?

  13. #13

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    My new low beam policy is "you first". As soon as the oncoming vehicle dims his lights I do as well. If they want to play high beam headlight chicken I'm game.

  14. #14

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by teestow View Post
    My new low beam policy is "you first". As soon as the oncoming vehicle dims his lights I do as well. If they want to play high beam headlight chicken I'm game.
    That is a very immature attitude and practice. It's also illegal, and Rule 11 of this board prohibits advocating illegal activity, so you'll need to please stop it now. Somebody else's unlawful use of lights does not justify your own.

  15. #15

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAusC View Post
    A chronic problem here is people leaving Foglights on permanently
    Same here in America. A proper study of the matter by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute found more drivers use their fog lamps in clear/dry weather than in foul weather! They are mostly used as fashion accessories (or perhaps it's a case of "I paid for 'em, so I'm gonna use 'em!", or even "I don't know what this switch does, but I paid for it, so I'm gonna use it!").

    Do all cars have Dash Indicators that Foglights are on ?
    Yes.

  16. #16

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    I don't like being blinded. I pay attention to situations in which other people's high beams are blinding me, and do my best to not have my high beams put someone else in that situation. This generally means turning off the high beams whenever there is a vehicle in front of me.

    Are cars REQUIRED to have a dash indicator for fog lights?

    My cars that have been retrofitted with fogs have no such indicator, should I add one?

    Seems foolish to me, like the burned out headlight indicator. If a person can't tell that their fogs are on/a headlight is burned out, they have no business driving.
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  17. #17
    Flashaholic Lightdoctor's Avatar
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    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diesel_Bomber View Post
    I don't like being blinded. I pay attention to situations in which other people's high beams are blinding me, and do my best to not have my high beams put someone else in that situation. This generally means turning off the high beams whenever there is a vehicle in front of me.

    Are cars REQUIRED to have a dash indicator for fog lights?


    Seems foolish to me, like the burned out headlight indicator. If a person can't tell that their fogs are on/a headlight is burned out, they have no business driving.

    Ever though of installing a lighted switch?
    Last edited by Lightdoctor; 01-21-2012 at 08:33 PM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightdoctor View Post
    Ever though of installing a lighted switch?
    No.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diesel_Bomber View Post
    If a person can't tell that their fogs are on/a headlight is burned out, they have no business driving.
    It honestly just never occurred to me to need an indicator for something that's already pretty obvious.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diesel_Bomber View Post
    Are cars REQUIRED to have a dash indicator for fog lights?
    Effectively, yes.

    My cars that have been retrofitted with fogs have no such indicator, should I add one?
    Since you don't like to blind others...yes.

    If a person can't tell that their fogs are on/a headlight is burned out, they have no business driving.
    People also leave their headlights on and drain their batteries, lock their keys in their cars, forget to zip up their pants, and do all kinds of other things they "have no business" doing, because they're...

    ...wait for it...

    ...human.

  20. #20

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Can't say I disagree with the OP's assessment of driving patterns; it seems to be a new norm on the roads.

    I've always been judicious in my usage of brights. There are plenty of times when I could use them; fewer times when I need to use them. Driving to my parents' house used to involve long stretches of hilly, curving highway with a deer population bordering on "infestation"; at night I tended to use my brights whenever possible. On most interstates, on city streets, and during bright moonlight I could use brights to see better, but the benefit of doing so is considerably lower. The added awareness in marginal situations isn't worth the need to switch them on and off in my opinion.

    I generally switch off brights for oncoming traffic (or cars in front of me) as soon as I get clear definition of separation between their headlights or tail lights, or I can otherwise tell they're around 200 yards away. If I'm on a divided highway with some separation between directions, I might not feel the need to switch off brights since other drivers aren't in the path of the beam; sometimes I do the same when I'm on the outside of a turn for the same reason.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  21. #21

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    Same here in America. A proper study of the matter by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute found more drivers use their fog lamps in clear/dry weather than in foul weather! They are mostly used as fashion accessories (or perhaps it's a case of "I paid for 'em, so I'm gonna use 'em!", or even "I don't know what this switch does, but I paid for it, so I'm gonna use it!").
    I often use my vehicle's fog lamps when driving through my neighborhood at night (speed limit 25MPH) because there are many neighborhood cats and dogs; the additional shoulder lighting has allowed me to spot them on many occasions before they darted out in front of the vehicle.

    Otherwise, they seem to add no value when driving in fair weather since the area they illuminate is too close for driving at speed.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  22. #22

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    The variability of answers in this thread illustrates a real problem in the US/Canada. Many of the answers so far recommend switching to low beam at a longer distance than is necessary to avoid dangerous glare. The driver who dims prematurely is doing himself a great disservice as far as safety is concerned; properly-aimed U.S. low beams cannot provide adequate seeing distance for speeds greater than about 40 to 45 miles per hour. Most of us speed along much faster than that with low beams. Not as much of a problem on a controlled-access freeway with less chance of an encounter with an animal (or whatever) and lots of cars in front of you to extend the effective seeing range, but using low beams when not in traffic and driving faster than 40 is really unsafe.
    This is what I was thinking about, and why I asked the question. Like you say, it's not so bad when there are cars in front of you that "extend" your distance, but without it becomes a little uncomfortable. Maybe that's why everyone just drives with their brights on?

    Also, on my vehicle, the fog lights don't have any other positive indication other than the button is pressed (2009). However, it's a push-on/off, so you can't really tell in a dark interior what position the switch is in. The only illumination on the switch is just to tell where the switch is.

  23. #23

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    Effectively, yes.
    So legally, no?
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  24. #24

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    I am polite with my lights, because that is the way I like to be treated and safety is an element not uppermost in todays drivers minds.

    Two variables that have not been brought up is:
    1) the driver is unaware that they have their high beams on...these would be the same caliber of drivers that leave their turn indicators on for miles and miles.
    2) the aged driver who just can't see without their high beams on.

    Unfortunately with the age demographic of drivers on the road these two issues are not going to go away.

  25. #25

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diesel_Bomber View Post
    So legally, no?
    Fog lamps aren't Federally regulated in the US. International ECE regulations as well as the SAE standards most states explicitly or implicitly adhere to do require a telltale.

  26. #26

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeanBurn View Post
    1) the driver is unaware that they have their high beams on...these would be the same caliber of drivers that leave their turn indicators on for miles and miles.
    2) the aged driver who just can't see without their high beams on.
    3) The driver of a vehicle with a dimmer switch easily knocked to the high beam position in the course of operating the turn signal or knocking the lever inadvertently while steering. The "push forward for high beam, pull back for low beam" type of switch seems most prone to this, and is unfortunately common. The older "pull to toggle from low to high or high to low" switch was not at all prone to it.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    LOL! We have both of those dimmers, as well as the one I consider "old," which is a button on the floor to the left of the clutch.

    I'm not averse to reminding the other driver he's on high, but I will flick up and down so quickly that the bulbs don't really come up to brightness to blind him - just a quick friendly reminder. After all, it's not as if I've never in my life forgotten.

    When I was a lot younger and had rally bulbs in the Cibie lights on my 1978 Saab 99 Turbo, I generally dimmed if I saw other lights on the road - red or white. With 80/100 H4's, 100W H1's and 100w H2's in the Oscar+ driving lights, I had enough range that I really didn't want to dazzle anyone. I think I never got hassled about my lights because I kept them aimed carefully and always dimmed in plenty of time. (I did very rarely get flashed over my fogs, not because they produced glare, but because few people ran fogs lights at the time and just seeing four white lights set them off).

    Once or twice only, I lost my temper when a polite reminder or two wouldn't get the other guy to dim. Swung front toward right edge of road a bit, than angled back toward center, hit High just as my nose pointed straight at the oncoming car. But when I saw the other guy so blinded that he STOPPED, I realized that 600 watts of long range halogen lights could be dangerous. It's not worth making some bozo run off the road just because he's a jerk. He'll be past in a few seconds anyway. Maybe I've mellowed with age. Maybe I scraped up too many accidents during my VFD years...
    Last edited by Hamilton Felix; 01-23-2012 at 07:49 PM.
    There are two kinds of light - the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures. ~James Thurber

  28. #28

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    Fog lamps aren't Federally regulated in the US. International ECE regulations as well as the SAE standards most states explicitly or implicitly adhere to do require a telltale.
    I'll make sure any future retrofits get an indicator, and will add one to the existing retrofits the next time I'm doing work under the dash.
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  29. #29

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    The part that bugs me is that flashing high beams at people does nothing. I am at about 1 for 50 with people actually dimming their lights after coming at me with high beams. For some weird reason, Hyundai Elantras of this and last generation are the most common perpetrators in Phoenix. I drive a 2005 Elantra and the controls are typical, so there is no excuse for some funky EU setup.

  30. #30

    Default Re: New trend in high-beam etiquette: don't turn them off, ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by rushnrockt View Post
    I drive a 2005 Elantra and the controls are typical, so there is no excuse for some funky EU setup.
    Huh?

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