Driving Without Tail Lights at Night

I commute every day from Buckley Bay to Parksville in the morning and back after work. It is dark in the morning and still darkish in the evening.

I try to keep a “driving diary” to alert myself to repeated issues. One of the things that has been appearing frequently in my diary is “truck or car in front of me driving without lights”.

My previous commute (5 years ago) was from east of Chilliwack to Abbotsford, a 45 minute commute. Very occasionally I would see people driving without their lights on, but not that often.

It is definitely a Vancouver Island phenomenon – driving without lights. Of course, Vancouver Island drivers drive slower than Lower Mainland drivers and are more courteous, but this “no light” thing is extremely dangerous. A black truck in the dark with rain and fog is practically invisible until you are right on top of it.

I usually flash my high beam lights a few times to alert the driver that his/her lights are not on, but 80% of the time to no avail. Is this a good idea or not?

Answer

I'm not sure if this is a Vancouver Island issue or simply an issue that is becoming more common as the collection of vehicles on our roads becomes newer.

When I started driving, having dash lights meant that all of the vehicle's lights were on. This is definitely not the case today. It would appear that most, if not all, newer vehicles have dash lights on whenever the vehicle is running, regardless of the setting of the headlight switch. They can no longer be relied on as a sign that your tail lights are also on.

Perhaps this is a human factors oversight in the design of the daytime running light system.

This situation may have been made worse by the advent of the Auto setting on the headlight switch. Set and forget becomes the default choice, but what happens if that setting is changed? My grand daughters love to do that if they ever make it to the front seat! If you don't think to look, automatic is no longer automatic.

One driving instructor I know recommends that you continue to manually turn headlights on and off regardless of the presence of the automatic setting. That habit will not let you drive with no tail lights when you need them.

I frequently see this topic on social media and read an article on TranBC's web site warning about this. Unfortunately, the warning does not appear to be that effective.

As for flashing your high beams, technically it's illegal to do so. From your experience, it's also not very effective. I wish I had a useful recommendation for you.

Our Canadian regulations need

Our Canadian regulations need to be updated and for once what the Americans do should not be a consideration. Over the last few years I have seen a relaxation regarding DRL's to where the newer Kenworths one often sees the clearance lights before you spot the DRL's

Things I would like to see mandatory in Canada

  1. Automatic headlights
  2. If dash lights on all outside lights must be illuminated
  3. Headlight washers
  4. White only DRL's of a specific intensity and size
  5. Rear fog lights
  6. Taillight washers or at least a warning when lights obscured by snow and mud
  7. Adoption of European light standards. (They have some really neat lights)
  8. Outside mirrors that do not get covered with your own spray
  9. Outside mirror deicers

Canada has unique conditions we should not tie ourselves into a nation that does not have the same weather and lighting conditions.

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