Muttering endlessly about ’Construction & Use’ legislation, Iain P W Robertson swears that the next time a vehicle’s headlamps sear his retinas he will take the law into his own hands and ‘smash their lights out’ (if he can see them)!

lights1Every time that I am blinded by an oncoming vehicle, while travelling along our nation’s roads I cannot help but feel that the offending party is a careless individual, listening to some mindless radio station, or iPod connection that is blarting out endless screeds of drum ‘n’ bass, which probably affect his (because the offender is usually a bloke) solitary brain cell and any rare potential for him to multi-task. I want him and his ilk to be removed forcibly from the network and sent to some ancient and remote colony, from which escape is unlikely.

Personally, I have a thing about lights. Perhaps it is because I am a product of the disco generation, I truly do not know. While I can recall attending a Genesis concert a number of years ago, I read the credits on the inside back page of the prized programme, which highlighted that each of the hundreds of Varilites making up the band’s lighting rig was as illuminatingly potent as each of Concorde’s landing lights, I have never understood that prat who lives just five doors along the road from my home.

His Toyota pickup, which another neighbour pointed out to me was a ‘tribute to Top Gear’, sits fully four feet higher off the ground than the standard item, is seemingly powered by a V8 diesel of such raucous vibrancy that it rattles the crystal cabinet with every passing, and which he appears to bathe every other day from the luxury of a rather tall stepladder, recently sprouted an array of blue-fronted blur-makers on its upper roll-bar. These match the similar, six-strong array of Ring-branded illuminators perched precariously along the leading edge of the bonnet (quite how the fellow sees out of the beast is anyone’s guess but he cannot be accused of being shy on the lighting front).

In my rallying days, a decent pair of Cibies would light the tracks, or country roads, ahead but I would only operate them, when nocturnal conditions and competition dictated it. However, the laws of the land do seem to be playing against me. Gone are the days when every Saab, or Volvo, owner would be flashed by everyone else for having their car’s lights on in daylight hours. It was a Scandinavian safety rule and I was very much a supporter. Now, of course, every Ford, every Land Rover, every Hyundai and most Volkswagens boast their own signature LED displays, which seem to become increasingly elaborate and significantly brighter with every move further up the price lists. I even winced at a Peugeot recently, so sharply brilliant was its array.

Yet, DRLs, or daytime running lamps, to provide their full name, are actually not the problem. Neither is the Toyota goon down the road, because even were he to switch on just a pair of his lights, the chances are that the wiring would burn out…you just know the type. No. It is the mal-adjusted that cause the problems and, yes, we are talking about both the lamps and the individuals driving them.

lights2In my book, improperly adjusted headlamps are a similar sin to having the wrong tyre pressures. Yet, for some people, you know that they dance (maybe) to a different tune. Whenever I hear about MOT problems, I tend to believe that most testers do not even bother checking the angles of reflectors, or lenses, as long as the bulb is on, even if nobody is home.

However, there is a worse scenario, so I have been informed. While countless automotive lighting emporia, the length and breadth of our great nation, have been satisfying the envious demands of the wannabes, who cannot afford the fancy cars with the signature light displays, they have also been breaking the law. You see, all car lights are governed by the ‘Construction & Use Regulations’ that our country’s police forces loved to quote roadside, with sincere sagacity, at any hapless fool stopped for having his front fog lamps illuminated, even though (and especially when) the air is fog-free. The issue is that they can hardly tell the difference these days between what is still unlawful and the otherwise eminently legal DRLs. Therefore, they do not bother.

If you blinked and missed it, it is illegal to sell some replacement headlamp kits in this country and it is also illegal to fit and use some items of hardware, of which bi- (and straight-)Xenon headlamps are a case in point. I am not going to explain the reasons why but let it be said that installing the latest screw-in hardware is not quite as elementary as it could be and it will screw-up your headlamp performance to the point at which it causes me to have retinal scarring….which returns me succinctly to my opening gambit.

Actually, while I am on the subject, all lights, legal, or illegal, fore, or aft, cause the most abysmal confusion, when switched on, at night, in the centre of town, during a rainstorm. This dictates reduced speed, an aspect that some drivers (not just the ladies) think that they are too butch and manly to slow down for. However, I shall save that for another rant. In the meantime, those awful extra-bright red rear fog lamps should be used only in really foggy conditions, NOT all the time, NOT just in the rain and definitely NOT in town. Switch the bloody things OFF, before one of us suffers a mischief!

Come to think about it, high-level rear brake-lights are another ruddy nuisance in similar conditions outlined in the previous paragraph. Please do NOT sit at traffic signals and junctions, with your foot pressing the brake pedal into the carpet. Use the parking brake instead. That way, the poor sod behind, who might be tired after a day spent in the office carrying out menial tasks, is not ground further into the roadway by your boldly illuminated scarlet rudeness. It is a simple, if convoluted message.

Conclusion: Stop blinding people. That way you will not incur the wrath of the mild-mannered fellow road-users, who also pay their taxes and share the road with you. It truly does not take much to think about the state of your vehicle’s lights. Whether they are on, or just on full-beam. That is what the blue warning lamp highlights. If you have had some lighting changes made to your vehicle, at least ensure that they are legal and that the spread of illumination does not cause eyesight issues to the rest of the population.

About Iain P W Robertson

Frequently being told to 'go forth and multiply', Iain P W Robertson's automotive wisdom is based on almost forty years in the business, across all aspects from sport to production, at the highest levels. He likes dogs and drives a Suzuki (not related).