Mangalore: Cause for Concern - High Beam Headlights Making Night Driving Risky

Brijesh Garodi
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore

Mangalore, Jan 16: Night driving or riding on Indian highways is never an easy task even for the most experienced people behind the wheels, but there are some avoidable practices that make it worse.

One of the foremost issues troubling night drivers, apart from poor street lights and potholes, is the use of high beam headlights in some vehicles, which disturbs commuters approaching from the opposite direction.

Recent developments in automotive technology have enhanced drivers' personal comfort levels, but one is tempted to ask, at what cost?

The halogen and projector lights that sometimes come built-in, and sometimes are customized, provide clear view of the road at night, but at the same time can be a nuisance to other commuters. Headlights come in low and high beams, and propriety demands that the latter are to be used only when required. Unfortunately, many a time, drivers often forget to switch over to low beam.

The high beams, with their sharp, pricky and intent rays are not only blinding and harmful to the eyes, but also are an important cause for many accidents. Such lights are most used by buses, trucks and other vehicles, with least concern towards lighter vehicles like bikes. The light momentarily blinds the commuter approaching from the opposite direction, thus making it difficult to find the way. Another point to be noted is that the level of high beam light, in terms of height, is almost equal to the height of the car seat, which means the rays fall directly on to the person's eyes.

Though drivers have the option of using low beam lights, many prefer high beams so as to get a comfortable view of the road. Perhaps, better lighting of roads itself would offer a solution to the problem, though expecting the authorities to light up every road in the state would be a little too much. Rather than wait, it would be better if citizens themselves take the responsibility of making night driving safer for themselves and for others, and use low beam headlights to the maximum. One only needs to put onself in the shoes of the driver approaching from the opposite direction to understand the level of damage one's high beam lights are causing.

Naveen D Padil, a popular figure in the Tulu cinema and drama industry, says that he usually drives home at night after work, sometimes having to travel long distances. "The high beams from vehicles are too disturbing and affect visibility. It is best to slow down to be on the safer side," he said.

Deepak, driver-cum-manager of Laxmi Tours and Travels, says that high beam lights are the worst problem dogging a tourist driver. "Company-fitted high and low beams do not not cause much problem, but when the headlights are customized with HID, projector and halogen bulbs, then it becomes a nuisance," he said.

"The best way to avoid accidents is to slow down and proceed. RTO needs to take stringent steps against such violators, so as to help the night drivers. People using high beams are not concerned about the safety of other drivers. It is only after we switch on to high beams too, that the opposite high beam user switches back to low," he added. 

"The RTO cannot run behind such drivers all the time. It is our duty to see to it that we drive safe and give way and make night driving safe for others. Awareness about this issue is a must," he opined.

Speaking to Daijiworld, T D Nagaraj, traffic inspector, east police station, said that the high beam lights, especially the ones that disturb other drivers are not allowed. "A driver can use a high beam light for his comfort and visibility, but when there is an oncoming vehicle, it is a must to dim his light," he said.

"Cases related to use of high beams are booked less by the traffic department as the lights are used at night and traffic policemen are not on duty. A black strip at the top of the headlamp and a black spot at the centre is a must for heavy vehicles," he added.

"When we find drivers using white or dazzling lights, a spot fine of Rs 100 is imposed, failing which, a court notice is sent. Further details related to the use of headlamps in vehicles can be found under Central Motor Vehicle Rule (CMVR) section 106," he said.

Subhramanya, ACP, traffic east police station, said that the use of dazzling, high beams and other related harmful headlights is a serious issue. "This issue can never be tackled just by registering a case or imposing fines. Awareness is a must for such issues and people themselves need to be aware of the problems caused to the oncoming traffic, and they themselves need to avoid causing harm," he said.

"A special drive to curb this issue will soon undertake, with four teams at different places, headed by the inspector, SIs and ASIs. Apart from lodging cases and imposing fines, measures will be taken to spread awareness," he said.


Excepts from Rule 106 under CMVR, 1989

106. Deflection of lights.—(1) No lamp showing a light to the front shall be used on any motor vehicle including construction equipment vehicle (whether fitted with single or dual head lamp) unless such lamp is so constructed, fitted and maintained that the beam of light emitted therefrom.

(2) is permanently deflected downwards to such an extent that it is not capable of dazzling any person whose eye position is,

(A) at a distance of 8 metres from the front of lamp,
(B) at a distance of 0.5 metre to the right side of the lamps, i.e., fitted at right extreme of the vehicle, from the right edge of the lamp, and
(C) at a height of 1.5 metres from the supporting plane of the vehicle:

(2) The provisions of sub-rule (1) shall not apply to any lamp fitted with an electric bulb, if the power of the bulb does not exceed 7 watts and the lamp is fitted with a frosted glass or other material which has the effect of diffusing the light.