Wednesday, January 4

Jacksonville Vehicle Pet Peeves: Lights

I do a lot of driving at night, so I'm kind of an authority as to the lackluster vehicular lighting on Jacksonville roads. Whether other drivers have too many lights or too few, it's an annoyance that can sometimes be a safety concern.

The most obvious lack of lighting in Jax seems to be none at all. This is mostly from people not using the most obvious safety feature in existence -- the Auto setting for lights. It's also possible that complicated LED lighting has caused more failures than in the past-- I believe this to be the case for some of the taillight issues. Or just drunk people. The net result is a lot of people seem to have missing lights, particularly tail lights. Sometimes tinted lights or license plates render actual lights ineffective, but it's mostly lights burned out, fuses blown, or lights turned off. Maybe some people just like to drive with parking lights on, too. Please, just set your lights to Auto and forget about them. Also, try hooking up your trailers so that the wiring works.

Too Bright
Some people drive around with their brights on, but that's not really the biggest problem in my opinion. It seems a lot of lights, especially on big, stupid pickups, are aimed wrong. If you lift your whole truck or just the front, you really need to aim your lights lower. People will spend $10,000 to lift their pickups and then skimp on the simple adjustment that would make the vehicle legal to drive (and avoid blinding other drivers). Florida law says your lights can be up to 54 inches off the ground, but you also need to aim the light lower than that at 25 feet against a wall. If your truck is lifted only in the front and you don't re-aim your lights, they are blinding and fairly useless.

Too Many
I'm not talking about the Hyundai Tucson and all its weird little lights, since those are just stupid looking and not a hazard. I'm referring to the aftermarket fog light strips (sometimes multiple) or even the use of fog lights in the hopes of looking cool. I've also seen add-on brake lights or light-up car-model-script tail lights. Some diy folks will slap stick-on red led strips on the bumper for reasons. It's really best to leave the lighting alone unless you need to replace a bulb because more lights are way less important than working lights.

The Circus
Back when I was in high school, the kids started lighting up the area below their cars with neon lights. I even knew a guy who made a pretty good living off the trend for about a year, or the amount of time it took local police officers to pull the cars over. Like high-waisted jeans, the unlikely trend is back, in the form of LED lights that last about 3000 times as long as neon. They can change color, flash like Christmas lights, and generally turn any respectable vehicle into a clown car. Still, consumers love these lights, and they'll light up every nook and cranny of the car with the marvels. A slight glow to show off your big rims and expensive suspension doesn't bother me, but bright, flashing lights shooting off in all directions is a road hazard. If your vehicle isn't a spaceship, it's white and amber lights in front with red and amber lights in back (with white backup lights). When you add color-changing headlight surrounds in red, that's illegal because you have the wrong color in the front. As a driver, I am also distracted by red and blue lights that seem like police lights or any flashing lights. I'd also mention that flashing brake lights is a dumb trend as you don't need them, and they are especially annoying in rush-hour traffic. 

My recommendation is that you leave your car lighting alone and use your talents to add majestic lighting to rooms inside your house. LED toilet seats, backlighting around the television, and lighting above and below kitchen cabinets are pretty cool. You can even slap your Instagram sticker on the wall in whatever room you upgrade so everyone who is enchanted by your skillz can follow you.

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