I had *680 on my cell, ready to hit SEND.
But before I called Darryl Dahmer, 680 News' crack traffic reporter, I figured - better check out what he had to say first. It was "on the ones" - can't remember exactly when, but it was some time yesterday - and he was just coming on air.
After his usual thorough report, Double-D added, "And folks, please turn on your full headlights. It's not enough that you can see others, but that others can also see you."
Not a verbatim quote, but close enough.
How did he know that was exactly what I was going to call him about?
Obviously, the people who read this blog already understand this. You're car people. You get it.
But how do we reach those who don't get it? I thought, how better to get this message across than via the most listened-to traffic reporter in the city?
He was already there.
As you may remember, it poured rain most of yesterday. I was driving around in various parts of the GTA. At one point I counted no more than one car in ten which had its headlights on.
What's the big deal? Don't all cars since the early 1990s have Daytime Running Lights?
Most do, although I saw a few that did not. I could not tell whether they were US-sourced cars (Americans aren't smart enough to figure this out - geez; they're still arguing about Health Care!) or if they had had the DRL disabled, which you can do in some cars if you know the trick. Why you would you want to remains an open question.
But as I have complained here before, most cars with DRL only switch on the front lights, usually 85 percent intensity high beams.
This is because that's all Transport Canada requires of car manufacturers. And the sad fact is: when it comes to safety, most car manufacturers still only do what is mandated - they don't go the extra half-step, even if it is essentially cost-free.
The obvious problem with this approach to DRL is that it leaves no illumination to the rear of the car. And on the highway, where the majority of our kilometres are driven, this means that especially in rain or misty conditions, you're essentially flying blind.
A few weeks ago, I brought this issue up with respect to cars driving at night with only DRL on. It is worse when it is raining at night because the driver can see light shining in front of his car (from the DRL) reflecting off the wet road. But because most cars also switch on the dashboard lights when DRL comes on, he would have no clue that his rear lights were not on.
I have tried to devise a way to indicate to people that their rear lights are not on.
Flicking high beams just seems to irritate people.
On most cars, you cannot switch the lights off entirely, so off-on-off-on cannot be done.
Honking and/or waving is likely to be ignored or misinterpreted, and is also distracting to both the warner and the warnee.
Short of my own pixelboard sign in the back of my car (I have seen similar inventions), there's no obvious way to get this message across.
There are, however, a variety of solutions.
From a regulatory perspective, Transport Canada at the very minimum just HAS to make it illegal to have the dash lights on when DRL is on. This way, at least at night you'll have some clue that your lights need switching on, although it won't do much for the daytime rain situation.
The province could pass a law mimicking those in several US states which say that whenever the wipers are on, the lights must also be on. A massive ad campaign, including regular messages on the pixelboard signs on our freeways, would help.
It wouldn't be all that technically difficult to wire all cars in such a manner.
Some newer cars have an "AUTO" setting which turns the lights on at dusk.
It would be better still if ALL lights came on ALL the time. Some car makers (Volkswagen and Volvo, to name two) already do. To make others comply would again require a Transport Canada regulation.
But the simplest solution comes from the Nike athletic shoe company:
Just Do It.
Get in. Fire up. Belt on. Lights on. Drive away.
Do it - for all of us. Tell your non-car-people friends and acquaintances.
And Darryl my friend, keep spreading the word.