The High Beam Debate Ends Today.

It is dark out and I have just passed you.

After a few seconds, I look in my mirror to make sure I’m passed you and put my turn signal on to move back to the right lane. 

You FLASH YOUR HIGH BEAMS to let me know I’m clear!

Or worse yet, leave them on a second or two. Perhaps even flash them several times.

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Now, flash blinded, I make my lane change, curse your being and move along into the night shaking my head, and hating you. I probably won’t even say anything on the radio, as arguing with an idiot equals two idiots. 

I used to think about a great many things, there was basically a right way and wrong way to get things done. As I’ve aged slightly, I realize more and more that there are in fact many ways to do most things, and if a “job well done” means nobody got hurt, and everyone is happy, then pretty much any way to do something is okay. 

Flashing your high beams in someone’s face to let them know they are clear of your truck is not one of these things

234 years ago in the mid 90’s – before satellite radio – I was listening to The Truckin’ Bozo one night, and the topic of discussion was this very thing. One guy called in and in a cranky old drivers tone said, “That’s the way I been doing’ it for 35 years. I flash my high beams. I don’t turn my lights off.” I thought to myself, ‘well, at least he’s consistent in his stupidity.’

Doing something wrong for a long time does not make it correct.

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You’re just doing it wrong.

Flashing your high beams in someone’s mirror is the wrong way to signal that they have passed you.

Don’t these folks who do this pass people every now and then, and get high beams in their face at night, and realize it’s not a good idea? Or do they like driving for the next 15 minutes with spots in their eyes, which may just hide a small car with a family of four returning from Grandmas? 

Yes, by flashing your high beams in my eyes, I believe you are creating an unsafe situation by blinding another driver. You are not helping, and provided you make a smart assed comment after I make my lane change like “You’re welcome…” because I don’t blink my lights, well, now you know why. It’s because you didn’t really “help”. 

Once, I heard a driver complain that he would like to turn his lights off and on briefly, but that the company has a daytime driving light policy, and the lights on the truck never really shut off. 

Usually, we can tell as we are looking in the mirror. The daytime lights are not as bright as the headlights. 

Let’s try an experiment.

Sit in a very dark room, with your eyes open. Sit down, because you might lose your sense of equilibrium. We need it very dark. Like, so dark you start to think you can actually see things in the darkness. Sit there a while. That’s because your eyes have become accustomed to the dark.

The same thing happens when you’re driving at night. While there are still light sources, your eyes become used to the dimmed lights.

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Your eyes get used to this.

Now, let a camera flash go in this very dark room.

Now, very quickly, turn on the lights!

Try to find your keys!

For myself, I hope you stub your frickin’ toe and bang your shin on everything. I mean everything.

While you’re laying on the floor cursing, I hope you learned something.

The reason you just destroyed this room because you couldn’t see is because your eyes did not adjust themselves quickly enough to the changing light input, causing temporary blindness.

Okay I’ll admit it. The setup for this experiment was a bit of an exaggeration.

But the very same thing happens when you flash your high beams in someone’s mirror as they’re passing you.

Now stop arguing about it. I have provided science.

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Another option is…just sit there. That’s right, do nothing. Personally, I’m fine with this. My depth perception is not so bad that I can’t tell where you are anyway, so you just sitting there in your 62 mph truck and not doing anything is just fine.  

Let’s recap:

Using your high beams at night to let someone know they are clear of your truck after they have just passed you is the wrong way to do so. 

You’re not helping, you’re creating a hazard. Seriously. Stop it.

1 thought on “The High Beam Debate Ends Today.”

  1. The secret to the hi-beam flash is trusting that the ‘passing truck’ is looking at the road in front of him/her, and NOT looking in the mirror. In my experience as the ‘passing truck’, a high beam flash is a lot more visible than a sudden off-on darkness that could easily be another vehicle slipping in behind and in front of the passed truck. My eyes are on the road ahead and I wouldn’t expect the passed truck to turn off their headlights and risk running over a “gator” or something. It’s about safety, not some silly code of conduct that you think you understand.


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