Night-Driving!

Sherry McGuinn

Lyft me up so that I might see.

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Alright. I get it. I’m getting older. With everything that aging implies. But I’m not doing too bad, considering. Yes, my knees squeak and creak but I still work out every day. My focus is good, my brain sharp, no hair on my chin…but my vision. Damn!

When did car headlights get so freakin’ bright?

As I said, I know my eyes aren’t what they used to be. Truthfully, they were never all that great. My gene pool is polluted there, too.

I’ve had life-long astigmatism in one eye and recently, my ophthalmologist told me that I have “baby cataracts” in the other!

“Baby cataracts!” Am I supposed to burp them, or what?

I met an old work buddy for drinks last night. It was a drizzly, foggy evening and the bar where we met was unfamiliar to me.

Earlier in the day, my wonderful hubby, knowing that I’m geographically challenged, even with my phone’s GPS, ran me by the place on the way home from his doctor’s appointment so that I’d have a rudimentary idea of where I was going. Sort of a test drive — with him driving.

But, night time is not day time. It’s very dark, you see. (Or don’t see.) And the automobile industry has been outfitting its vehicles with LED headlights, which are significantly brighter. So bright in fact, that, according to a piece on ABC, state troopers are saying these high-beams “may make driving less safe.”

“May?” A study from the U.S. Department of Transportation found that 88% of drivers are more aware of headlight glare with 31% saying the glare is “disturbing.”

So it’s not just me. And it’s not just the aging process. It’s the MAN. Again!

Here’s why LED lights appear to be so much brighter. It’s a phenomenon called color temperature. While we may think of light as clear, it actually has a whole spectrum that ranges from orange-yellow to blue-white.

Studies have shown that blue and white tend to hit our eyes harder, especially at night. And in the winter, when daylight hours are shorter and car headlights shine longer, the shit only gets worse.

If LED lights weren’t annoying enough, another type of headlight is the Xenon or High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights which first showed up in the 90s.

Why do we put up with this crap? Why aren’t we more militant? Not being able to see while driving at night is some deeply terrifying, shit, people. Especially when considering the plethora of assholes behind the wheel.

You know the ones: The jerks who use the right turn lane to cut you off so they can save five seconds. If I were the Hulk, I’d pick these bastards up, cars and all, and slam them into the nearest embankment.

Yes. I used to let road rage get the better of me until my husband reminded me that all it takes is one creep with a gun. He’s right. I’d rather take deep breaths than a bullet any day.

I recently read that in May of last year, Change.org circulated a petition asking the federal government to crack down on LED and HID headlights because of the “dangerous, blinding glare.” To this date, the petition has racked up well over 5,000 signatures.

I’m going to add my name to that baby because the “blinding glare” from headlights is just one more kick in the ass we have to endure in a world that’s crumbling before our eyes. You’d think “common sense” would prevail. That, like empathy, kindness, and humility, are at a premium these days. In other words, forget about it.

Last night, I made a mental note to not overdo the booze as I knew the drive home would be challenging enough as it is. That’s the positive aspect of all this. Drinking less. Being more responsible. The not-so-good: Even though I was sober, I gripped the wheel like an old guy who finds a tit in his hands after twenty years of “not getting any.”

The headlights coming at me were like starbursts. Or fireworks. The lanes were hazy as was the road ahead. I took it slow and careful. When I finally pulled into my garage, I heaved a sigh of relief. And also regret. Because I use to love to drive. Especially on summer nights with the windows rolled down and the breeze caressing my cheek. And I don’t like having to drive so slowly. That’s an affront to my badassery.

I did a little research and found that there are glasses available especially for night-driving, with anti-glare, polarized lenses. Some even fit over prescription glasses. I’m considering giving these a spin.

The other option: Thus far, I’ve never had a reason to take an Uber or a Lyft. And, with the recent allegations of sexual abuse from drivers in both companies, I haven’t been too jazzed at the thought. Neither is my husband. But I’m no Luddite. And I can always carry pepper spray.

I like the idea of traveling to and leaving a party or outing without having to worry about how much I had to drink or whether or not I’ll get lost and end up in a cornfield somewhere with a cob stuck in one ear and a beetle in the other.

More important: I’d rather take on a Lyft driver than a semi.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.

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My goal is to educate, entertain, make you laugh, and above all, make you think. I will be running the gamut as far as my articles go because I have a restless mind and I allow it to ramble where and when it wants. I hope you enjoy what I'm looking forward to sharing with you. If so, I'd love for you to follow me. Thanks for reading.

Chicago, IL
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