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Combination highbeams/lowbeams

Prevent the morons on the road from blinding each other
  (+1, -5)
(+1, -5)
  [vote for,

My girlfriend's mother is a sweet lady, really she is. Well, actually, she's not. She thinks I'm a rapist and a loser. And she also drives with her brights on, regardless of the conditions.

She's convinced that it doesn't bother other drivers, but I think we can all say that getting high-beamed on the road, even if you tilt your head to the right (USA, Europe) or the left (all y'all wrong people), it's a hassle at the least, and a safety hazard at the worst.

Why not have cars adjust headlamp intensity and angle automatically? You don't need brights if there are street lights, you don't need brights in the day, you don't WANT brights in the fog...the only time you need them is when you're driving along East Nowhere Parkway.

So I propose a system built into every car's front bumper of a light-detection system tied into a dimmer. When light is low, your lamps receive more power and become brighter, and angle upward, as if you were using your highbeams. When there's more ambient light, or another car's headlights are detected, your lamps dim a bit, to some minimum value. The angle of the lamps, in terms of vertical direction, would also be lowered, so they don't strike the oncoming driver in the face.

You're still in charge of turning the lamps on or off yourself, and you'd still have a stalk on your steering wheel to flash your brights when the need arises.

But driving around with highbeams permanently on would be impossible, thus sparing other drivers many occasions of tilting their heads, squinting, and cursing at the 60-something lady in the minivan.

EDITED to clarify points, change names, and waste company time.

shapu, Oct 14 2004


       Quietly fit a photocell dimmer circuit to her van. That way, if it's daylight, or night and another car is encountered, her lights _will_ dim.
david_scothern, Oct 14 2004

       Cadillac had an automatic high/low beam switcher in the 1950's. "Autronic Eye". Dunno nuthin' bout new Cadillacs, it might still be there.   

       Instead of switching to low beams, you're proposing to modulate the brightness of the high beams?
half, Oct 14 2004

       I'm proposing to have it all be the same system. Perhaps I should have made that more clear.   

       I'm proposing one set of headlights, of variable intensity, set with an automated dimmer switch.   

       And, because I didn't mention this at all (though it's going into the idea now), the lamp unit's angling (the difference between high and low beams, beyond the additional light) would be adjusted by the unit as well.
shapu, Oct 14 2004

       You inferred quite well where I was headed with my line of questioning. :)
half, Oct 14 2004

       Yeah, I'm quick on my feet.
shapu, Oct 14 2004

       [half] mentioned the GM "Autronic Eye". One of the main problems with this device was that it frequently did not respond well to the red taillights of the car ahead of you, especially if they were small, as they often were on older model vehicles. While it would automatically dim your headlights anytime it sensed a car approaching from the opposite direction and return to bright after the car had passed, it would often fail to recognize the light emanating from the taillights of the car ahead of you if it was more than 100 yards (or so) distant. As soon as the lead car got 101 yards away, the Autronic Eye would automatically kick on the brights, throwing a blinding light into his rear-view mirror. I well remember the ticket my dad received on a country highway one wintry evening when the car ahead turned out to be a ticked-off State Trooper who was not impressed with the new-fangled technology and the annoying game he thought my dad was playing.
jurist, Oct 14 2004

       I have to bone this.
It does nothing to cure the dazzle of a driver meeting another driver on the bend of an an unlit country road. This, being the only time that you should legitimately be using 'full beam', is also the worst time to be dazzled, even momentarily, and no bumper mounted light detector is going to react faster than your own poor eyes.
The only solution, in my opinion, is to be aware of your headlight position and other road users and use all your headlight options sensibly.
It's just a click away.

       Having said all that, I would love to see this in practice for normal <UK>Dipped headlights</UK> use in variable daylight.
gnomethang, Oct 14 2004

       Sorry, gotta bone this. Beautifully explained though it be, I prefer to have full control of my controls, and I'd prefer other drivers to have the same.
angel, Oct 15 2004

       There's no reason to take control away from the people who know how to use it. If you don't know how to use your brights (or worse, don't care how they affect others) you should be lined up against the wall with all the other bad drivers, and shot.
brodie, Oct 15 2004

       I'm against automating things that don't benefit from being automated. I have, however, a time or two or a hundred forgot that I had my "brights" on when another car approached.   

       Would some sort of "high beams on" reminder (beyond the existing dash light, maybe a single audio "bing") in the presence of another vehicle be a decent compromise?
half, Oct 15 2004

       [brodie]: I thought about that, but didn't want to be accused of advocacy. It's fine in an anno, but gets ideas MFD'd.   

       [half]: What other sort of reminder should there be? If people don't see the dash light, or don't care about it, then I can't think of any other reminders that would suffice. Auditory reminders would distract/irritate the driver, an additional light would probably not do much...   

       [angel] - I'm suggesting this because, just like off-campus rules at high schools, some things get ruined for everyone by an idiot few.
shapu, Oct 15 2004

       Sorry, I don't know what you mean by 'off-campus rules at high schools' (Brit, and all that :-)).
I have a high-beam warning light - a large blue light on my dash - which tells me I'm showing high-beam. I fell that the occasions when an automatic system can get it wrong outnumber those when a manual system (ie, me) can do so.
angel, Oct 15 2004

       [Half]...I accidentally deleted your anno. Sorry.   

       You said, //It's not like I'm suggesting you set fire to the upholstery or anything//.   

       However, that's a good idea. It's on my list of things to write.
shapu, Oct 18 2004

       Worse than people who don't know about low beam are those who don't know that if they're doing mostly city driving they shouldn't have an off road vehicle. The high driving position combined with parabolic low beams can be mighty dazzling!
not_only_but_also, Oct 18 2004


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