(Photo: Michael Manning)
My Old Mustang GT
One of the strangest and most dangerous phenomenons I've observed while living in Arizona is the increasing number of automobile drivers who are driving along streets and highways at night without their headlights turned on. Friends in Virginia and Utah have told me of similar sightings. Why is this? One of the more obvious reasons I can think of for this occurrence is technology. In some automobile systems, driving lights--not the full headlamps--are activated automatically at dusk. A lighted dashboard may lead a driver to think their full headlamps are on, especially in areas where overhead street and boulevard lighting is plentiful. While our local Police officers are outstanding, the fact of the matter is that they can't be everywhere at once. Unfortunately, I've never seen a driver pulled over for driving at night with their headlights turned off.
From the age of 6, I've loved automobiles, and programs such as "Jay Leno's Garage" online is fun. One of the "Old School" features that was discontinued years ago was the manual "Pull-Out-Push In" dashboard light switches. Gone too are the floor mounted dimmer switches used to activate bright lights. Each of these functions are now usually a part of the turn signal arm located on the left-hand steering column. In other cases, a round knob switch located on the left-hand dashboard is used to turn on headlights. I've never liked these features. From a safety and ergonomic standpoint, a floor-mounted dimmer switch allows a driver to keep their eyes on the road. Too many times, a motorist will unintentionally flash their bright lights when trying to activate a turn signal or use their windshield washer. I sincerely doubt that a "back to the basics" or "old school" design will ever return in the form of manual headlight switches. But I wish it would. At the very least, doing so might save the life of a driver, pedestrian or cyclist.