"Your column today dealt with misdirected and burned out automobile headlamps," writes a McLean housewife. "I wish you had included a discussion of people who drive about town with blindingly bright headlights.
"I can remember when there were regulations against using high beams within a prescribed distance of another vehicle, and I can remember when policemen enforced those regulations.
"When a driver inadvertently used bright lights in an urban area, he soon encountered an oncoming vehicle that flicked its headlights at him as a reminder, and he would switch to low beams at once.
"Today you can flick at blinding headlights all night long and never get a response. Volkswagens are the most frequent offenders, but many other low-slung cars are also in this category. One can pick them out of any line of approaching vehicles during the evening rush hour because they are like little bugs with bright eyes. Are all those cars driven by zombies? Are the drivers asleep? Don't they know what message is being conveyed to them when another car's lights switch rapidly from bright to dim? Don't they care? Where are the police?"
The police are kept busy with more pressing problems. I'll have to concede that I haven't heard of an arrest for illegal use of high beams in 25 years.
Drivers of low-slung cars may be more frequent offenders because of lighting problems peculiar to vehicles of that kind. I have never driven a car that put me that close to the pavement so I don't know what the world looks like from down there.
I do think you're right about the widespread disregard for regulations that govern the use of high beams. Those regulations vary a bit from one jurisdiction to another, but they are still on the books, and in essence they all say the same thing: When you're close enough to another driver for your high beams to bother him, you must switch to low beams.
Two simple reminders may help drivers stay within the law:
1. In many cities, all use of high beams is prohibited by municipal ordinance.
2. In those areas where high beams are not totally banned regulations usually prohibit their use "within 400 feet of another vehicle," or within some other number of feet of another vehicle. Notice that the prohibition is not limited to vehicles coming toward you; it also includes a vehicle a head of yours that is traveling in the same direction.
A pair of glaring headlights that follow a driver for a prolonged period of time become a dangerous distraction to him as well as to approaching vehicles. An alert and considerate person does not inflict his high beams on others.
But alas! Some among us are not alert, some are not considerate, and some are neither of the above.
Sometimes these people drive around with their bright lights on. Sometimes they drive around with their lights entirely off. And in neither instance does it occur to them that visibility is not normal for them. They appear to be in a dreamlike state that prevents their brains from decoding incoming messages.
I think you could shoot off a cannon alongside some of them without their noticing that either.
But maybe I'm wrong about it. I'd sure like to try it some day and find out for sure. PAPER-SAVING DEVICE
For most of us, it's going to take a while to become accustomed to writng "1980." Readers who want to avoid spoiling the first checks they write during the new year can follow the procedure to which Scott Chase referred yesterday.
They can get out their checkbooks right now and enter "1980" on the datelines of a month's supply of blank checks. The remainder of the date can be filled in when each check is actually written.
By the time these partially pre-dated checks have been used on everybody should have broken the 1979 habit and become accustomed to writing 1980. POLITICAL NEWS
Is Harold Stassen an experienced politician? Bob Orben says he sure is.
"Stassen has been around a long time," Orben notes. "He has campaign buttons that are older than Jerry Brown." MAIL BAG Dear Bill:
I used to know what OPEC stands for, but I've forgotten, and if I ask my wife she'll tell me I'm getting senile. Don't print my name. Just sign me, Boy of 71 Dear Boy of 71:
OPEC stands for Oil Price Escalation Cabal. USA stands for almost anything. Boy of 67