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An Open Letter To All Indians Who Drive With High Beam In The City

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Safer Roads for YouEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #SaferRoadsForYou, a campaign by Safer Roads for Gurugram and Youth Ki Awaaz to understand the behaviour of road users and advocate for the importance of road safety. Join this conversation and tell us about your experience on Indian roads here.

As I rubbed my eyes and tried to spot the things around me after parking my motorcycle in my house’s parking lot, I decided I had had enough and needed to vent. Before we begin, however, let me preface this by saying that when I say all Indians, I’m quite aware that not all Indians do this. But apparently, some people still have difficulty accepting the fact that the world does not revolve around them.

Now that we got that out of the way, let us begin.

Dear Indians,

The high beam option on your vehicles is not a tool to blind those driving from the opposite direction. So, can you please stop using it on city streets and blinding those in the vicinity?

I like my head intact and my body uninjured – and to this end, I wear a helmet and a jacket while riding my motorcycle – a lesson learned the hard way, after multiple crashes and many scars. But there’s only so many precautions I can take when you, my dear fellow citizens, just hop into your gigantic ‘look-at-how-I-overcompensate’ SUVs and barrel down narrow city lanes in your hurry to catch flights and whatnot!

You see, I’m not rich. I can only afford a motorcycle that I can barely take care of, a helmet that does the job in protecting my head pretty well. I’m a simple young man in my 20s, trying to earn a living and not die before it’s my time. But, you have made it your life’s mission to blind me as I return home in the evenings, tired to the bone and thinking of a two-hour marathon of my favourite video games, before retiring for the night with a good book for company. You, my dear friends, have made it impossible for me to have the simple joys of my life – because, by the time I return home battling the roads and your headlights (which by the way evenly spreads across the helmet’s visor, thereby making it even worse), I have a headache, a temper and patches in my vision which your high beams have burned into my retinas.

The question I have for you all is simple – do you simply not know why the high beam exists? I thought this was the case – but most of the folks who engage in this ‘daily activity’ of burning people’s eyes out of their sockets also seem to understand that they have something called a ‘dipper’, which they manage to use every now and then, when they’re driving on the highway.

One fine day, having been angered sufficiently by an oncoming car blazing its high-intensity headlights directly into my eyes (which nearly caused me to run over a 6-year-old child), I decided that maybe it was street-justice time. I created a scene after having successfully stopped the car. Imagine my surprise when this man, driving a high-end German car, wearing a nice ironed shirt, khaki pants and what seemed to be high-end leather shoes, expressed shock at the fact that he wasn’t supposed to use high beams inside the city’s many well-lit streets!

My dear fellow drivers, are you not aware that the high-beam function on your cars exists not for your pleasure, but for your necessity? I understand that you may have no concern of what other people think, as long as you’re safe and secure – but is it really necessary to be arrogant about it? Why do you think it is your god-given right to swing your ‘luminous member’ around in my face, and then expect me to apologise for it, should something untoward happen?

It’s not just big overcompensating SUVs that are at fault here, although those are the ones that hurt the most. I personally know people who leave their high-beam switch turned on at all time on their scooties, as if that’ll make them go faster! Even many motorcyclists are painfully ignorant about the blind use of high beams – often leaving the switch on for some ungodly reason. It often makes me wonder why such people are devoted to using these beams, when they themselves are also the recipients of these nasty beams!

So, my dear Indians, the next time you have to go somewhere in a hurry, please don’t forget to turn off your high beams to make sure that you aren’t contributing to someone going blind. I know that many of us may be hypocrites and often do not care about others – but, can we please try? Do try and understand that you shouldn’t use high beams every time you sit behind the wheel, just because you have the option of doing it.

At the end of the day, people like me can only vent their annoyance, because despite ‘nearly’ dying or killing someone after being blinded by high beams, nothing ‘serious’ has happened so far. I suppose it is just plain old luck that I can sit down and type this out in the comfort of my home instead of rotting away in a jail cell for something that happened when I was blinded by the lights from another vehicle.

Yours Truly,

Me.

P.S: I know this is not a problem unique to India, but considering the vast array of things that we do not even consider to be of ‘importance’, burning people’s eyes out is also something worth talking about. I’m going to sleep now with a damned headache.

_

Featured image used for representative purposes only.

Featured image source: Kaushik Roy/India Today Group/Getty Images
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  1. Karthik Chi You Krishnan

    Hi Sujay,
    Completely understand your predicament – the problem is two-fold. We don’t have the education, and we don’t have the rules that will warrant people to get educated. What I think must be done is:
    1. Driving tests before issue of license must include night-driving
    2. High beam driving must be made a traffic violation categorised under dangerous
    3. Headlamps above 6000 Kelvin must be banned with permanent cancellation of vehicle registration
    4. You should get this https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Car-LED-Headlight-Bulb-H4-Headlamp-36W-3800LM-Fog-Lights-Lamp-High-Low-Beam-Exterior-Bulbs/32807720638.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.rD33re – it will fit your bike and it is brilliant – 4300 Kelvin and very good indeed – I ordered myself. They are as bright as truck headlamps – just make sure they point slightly lower than your normal headlamp position.

  2. Hezekiah Hlychho

    I ran off the road once cause the vehicle on the opposite side is parking on the left side with high beam on, and i thought it was on the right side of the road. So, I took my lane which is left and there i was lying on the on the sand off the tar. I agree with you Sujayendra Krishna and also Karthik Chi. People needs to be morally educated on this issue, and driving test must include such as using
    (1) head lights,
    (2) indicators,
    (3) turn signal,
    (4) traffic signal
    (5) lane discipline,
    (6) proper uses of horns and
    (7) overtaking

  3. ire_irae

    I’ve faced this multiple time while driving in different cities. I used to think how could people be so mind-numbingly dumb as to not realize that high beams cause issues for the opposite driver when pretty much everyone seems to be doing it and everyone seems to be on the receiving end also. Never solved that mystery and just concluded they don’t have any problems in driving blind.
    Problem is compounded by the fact that Indian roads don’t have proper lighting so a gazillion lumens shining straight into my eyes on pitch black roads at night would mean there could be a f*cking elephant 10 meters in front of me on the road and I wouldn’t be able to see it, let alone a pedestrian or a cyclist. Even tried signalling by switching beams but no avail.
    Best of all once when I happened to meet a high ranking traffic cop and asked him why do people do this, he seemed nonplussed and his reaction was basically why’re you making a big deal out of this princess there are bigger problems on the road. When the enforcers of rules have such an attitude towards the problem no wonder things are this bad in this country.

  4. Chirag Arora

    I always try to drive at low beam but dere are no street lights on the roads in India in many cities
    I think if dere are enough street lights
    One can easily see around & easily drive at low beam.

  5. rukmangada

    this happens to me every day. every bit of what you wrote I can relate to. only God can change people. No one else. God already failed.

  6. Farhad Patel

    Thanks for taking the time to write it and share it on a SM platform … I have been trying for years to put sense into peoples heads but all in vain … cause they seem to have no common sense or they com from another planet.

    Hope this spreads and some thing comes out of it.

  7. Sironzkar

    Dear Writer,

    While I agree on the points, you raised about the high beam of 4-wheeler vehicles hitting one’s eyes and making the ride difficult for the fellow riders, I feel you have never driven a 4-wheeler ever. I wish you wrote this peace by taking into consideration a holistic perspective of both 2-wheeler and 4-wheeler riders.

    As a matter of fact, for someone who is driving a 4-wheeler, it is equally challenging and frustrating. To Focus even when the small lights of the 2-wheeler (with high beams) are aimed at the eyes with the car’s steering sit alignment in the way of “introspection room light” that is targeted right at you and meant to blacken out your entire view. Of course, it doesn’t end here, some of the 2-wheeler riders are fond of keeping the lights on during the daytime which makes it even more difficult to focus on the road.

    Anyway. I feel you have raised a reasonable concern about the high and low beam usage through this article, and I sincerely hope both the 2-wheeler and 4-wheeler drivers consider this while they are on the road next.

    Peace!

  8. Swarup Kumar Sen

    Often there has been a genuine effort on my part to avoid using the high beam & use the low beam. But have realised the fact that in absence of proper street light to make features such as idiot Bharatiyas, potholes, broken medians, rubble from some digging, etc etc, we need to use high beam to its max potential. Also, we shouldn’t forget the incoming traffic who have already blinded you by shining their high beam in your eyes so that you do not cast an evil eye on their cars. Here one should also remember those great idiots on bikes who haven’t paid for the head & tail lamps & got a discount by eliminating the turn indicators too. You need to save yourself from these idiots & only way to do so is to use the high beam. So until you have Indians on road, keep the high beam use at peak or maximised level. We can also remove the other bulbs & rewirebtge circuit to install higher wattages for high beam.

  9. mounish

    I have been trying to tell this to people since a long time, and i never understood why people use high beam lights in first place. I have started beaming high light in return to them and once they cross i go back to normal lights. Cars / Bikes / every one does this. Dont know if the one who approved their license did make them understand of this or not. I always feel like breaking their lights with pipe stopping them on the road. I see the auto drivers and truck drivers have proper sense of using the lights, but the rich brats doesnt even understand of this. One more problem which bikers face while driving on the road is, the new bikes such as hunk / sports bikes / bullets, etc’s smoke outlet, they are tilted high in their exit part which directly pushes the smoke on face of the rider behind them. The smoke comes out with such a large pressure that the smoke hits with tremendous pressure on the face or chest directly of the rider behind them. I guess such Silencers should be banned. Its just my view.

  10. raghav bhavsar

    The real problem lies when people learn driving a 4-w. The instructor should teach these basics of road while driving. Unfortunately, it is sad to see people dying because of high beam blinding the rider (be it 2w or 4w). Indians themselves learn very seldom. Without someone on their head, it doesn’t get inside their brain. I, myself, am a victim of high beam during nights. i feel like blasting the opposite vehicle. ? ? ? ? ?

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