Do you ride a vehicle in Pune, a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler? How often can you make out which vehicle is coming towards you from the other side of the street? Have you ever encountered this?
This will make you blind! The bright high beam head lamps of vehicles coming towards you from the other side of the road diminish eyesight. For a few seconds after the vehicle passes by, it is impossible to see anything but a blind spot, and prolonged exposure to such high intensity lights will gradually make us blind!
I have lived in various cities in India, but this peculiar problem of driving vehicles with high-beam ON, is seen only in Pune! Be it two-wheelers or four-wheelers, they all (well almost all) drive with their head lamps on high beam! Oh and on top of that, if you have fog lamps, put those ON too! I feel like getting my vehicle in front of them in the middle of the road and slapping the driver right there for using such blinding beams!
There are a few things that could be behind this:
1. Badly lit streets in Pune
2. Lack of awareness amongst the Pune residents
3. False awareness that the way to counter bright flash is by another bright flash!
Of the three reasons above, I would not say Pune streets are well lit, but they are surely sufficiently lit, except for the Camp Area. I think reason 2 stands out! Punekars do not seem to be aware that there are two settings for lights, and what those two settings do. Another reason could be lack of explanation by driving schools while teaching people how to drive. Driving schools rarely take lessons in the night, or inform learners about low and high beams.
Let’s first see what a high beam does (source: Wikipedia):
High beam (main beam, driving beam, full beam) headlamps provide a bright, centre-weighted distribution of light with no particular control of light directed towards other road users’ eyes. As such, they are only suitable for use when alone on the road, as the glare they produce will dazzle other drivers.
Let’s see what a low beam does (source: Wikipedia):
Low beam (dipped beam, passing beam, meeting beam) headlamps provide a distribution of light designed to provide adequate forward and lateral illumination with limits on light directed towards the eyes of other road users, to control glare. This beam is intended for use whenever other vehicles are present ahead.
The above illustrations are for left-hand drive (right-side of the road, as in US), and are equally true for any country. This also applies to two-wheelers however the distribution of light is not forward/lateral but down and far. Down must be used on city streets and Far only if you are on a highway or sharp bends, or dark roads.
Also, if you have a vehicle in right front of you driving in the same direction, please dim your headlamps as they produce a blinding glare in the rear-view mirror. This makes it impossible for the driver of the vehicle in front of you to judge distance from your vehicle and also temporarily blind him from seeing vehicles coming from the other side.
The traffic police needs to enforce rules such as these very strictly within city limits.
Another blogger has discussed the same issue on her blog a few years back:
There ought to be a law against driving with High Beam headlights
There was also an article in the TOI about something similar in Chennai:
Dazzling headlights cause rise in mishaps
One very interesting rule I have found prevalent in Gujarat, is painting a thin strip of yellow/black colour on the side of the lamp that faces the center of the road. That helps keep the light off the eyes of the driver in the incoming vehicle! Why can’t that rule be enforced all over India?
I hope you are not guilty of using the high beam while driving your vehicle! We need to make people aware that they need to use low beam while within city limits, and switch off their fog lamps!
We do not want an eye-for-an-eye situation here, do we?