With daylight saving time over a month gone by, I drive home from work in the dark every night. And each night, at every traffic light, at every junction, I find myself bathed in the scarlet haze from the brake lights of the car in front. A glance in the rear view mirror confirms that the driver behind isn’t squinting through the same.
Because I am a hand brake user, and my brake lights aren’t permanantly blazing away like those on 98% of the other cars.
The man behind is oblivious to the courtesy I’m showing him, of course, but then I’d expect that from someone who has his oh-so-cool front fog lamps on in clear conditions – illuminating my car like I’m about to be abducted by aliens. You’re not meant to have your fog lamps on unnecessarily, according to the highway code, lest it dazzle other road users. Somehow that doesn’t seem to apply to high intensity brake lights, nor to the man who isn’t blinded by red light because I am a hand brake user. As long as his car looks cool – that’s all he’s thinking about. What other reason could he have for putting his halogen fog lights on during a clear night?
Occasionally I’ll find myself behind an older model of car – one without the high level brake light on the back, and then the red glow is more bearable. Last night as a special treat, I ended up behind a PT Cruiser, and that had something-something-Cruiser masked over its high level brake light. Very thoughtful – what a nice touch, I thought, at least now I know that folk who drive them are fuckwits as well as smug.
If good fortune strikes I’ll end up as the first car at the lights for a couple of the junctions I’ll encounter on the way home. And, even with my hand brake on, by observing when the other lights change I can be first away as soon as the amber light appears. Partly through years of practice, partly because I don’t have to move my foot from the brake to the accelerator pedal before I can go. That’s another advantage of being a hand brake user.
Go on – give it a try.