For those up close and personal headlights at night

Objects are closer than they appear

I discovered a little trick by accident a few months ago. I drive a little ’97 Honda Civic hatchback, which gets great mileage, but puts me at a distinct disadvantage with visibility when driving. Yes, it’s almost 20 years old. And yes, it’s in great condition. I’ve had dealers offer me 130% of Blue Book value for it, because they know it’s a great car, and I take care of it.

One of the drawbacks is its size. I’m not going to win any “chicken” contests in this car, that’s for sure. In summertime, it’s tough to see above tall grasses at rural intersections. Just about anytime I’m on the road, I’m dwarfed by other vehicles, and driving the back roads of my town gets a little dicey at times, when the driver of the oncoming Ford 250 is paying more attention to the radio dial or their phone, than the width of the road. And at night, my height (or lack thereof) puts me at just the right level to get rear-view and side-view mirrors full of headlights.

There’s not much I can do about it, other than angle the mirror away slightly and keep my eyes on the road. With headlights coming at me from all directions, driving at night can be a real pain in the neck. And now that the clocks have been set back, there’s even more of that magical experience.

Fortunately, I have discovered that there is a way to get pickups and SUVs and other larger vehicles to stop crowding me. (Crude hand gestures have proven generally ineffective, and sometimes produce the opposite results I’m looking for.) I’m not a slow driver in general. If anything, I’m the opposite — except when I am very tired — then I have a built-in safety mechanism of driving about 10 mph slower than I normally would, which has probably saved my life. But no matter how fast I’m going, it seems everyone else is in a bigger hurry than I.

Especially at night. Or when it’s raining. Or snowing. Oh, joy.

Here’s how I fix things:

On those nights when I’m getting crowded by a pickup or an SUV that’s in some godawful hurry, I simply angle my side view mirror straight back, so their headlights are out of my eyes. Apparently, at the straight-back angle, my side-view mirror reflects headlights right back at the driver behind me — if they are following me at an unsafe distance. When they back off to 2-3 car-lengths (which is what they should be keeping between us anyway), there doesn’t seem to be a problem with light in their eyes.

Only when they are a single car-length behind me, crowding me like there’s no tomorrow, do they get an eyeful. I was able to do this last night, in fact. A little pickup in a big hurry was on my ass for a couple of miles — lights apparently on bright. I angled my mirror back, got their brights out of my eyes, and they dropped back to 3 car lengths. Life was good again.

I don’t like to resort to this tactic. I prefer to drive defensively and leave others to their own foolishness, if it comes to that.

But if someone is not only driving unsafely, but also pushing me to go faster than I feel is prudent, and they’re blinding me in the process, they’re going to get an eyeful.

Happy trails everyone.

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About Kay Lorraine

I'm a writer and an artist, a technologist and a thinker, independently living my life.
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