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Norman Sperling
2625 Alcatraz Avenue #235
Berkeley, CA 94705-2702

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Beady-Eyed Headlights

© Norman Sperling, February 23, 2012

Car headlights are changing yet again. Tight, intense beams now glare at me on the road at night. They put out at least as much light as older headlights, but from a smaller area.

Stylists probably think this looks good. I disagree. By concentrating the source, they intensify distraction, afterimage, and annoyance from the glare.

Instead, they should try for less-intense light from broader sources. Spread the light out a lot, and the source won't be painful, yet the total illumination on the road can be greater.

The headlights of the cute Beetle 2.0 are absolutely wrong for such a cartoonish critter: stylistically, they shouldn't be hard, beady eyes, they ought to be big, googly, Tweety-Bird-style eyes. This softer source should enhance the car's appearance as well as its driver's ability to see. Somebody should offer those as after-market plug-ins.

Soft lights could serve additional functions. They could outline a bulky vehicle's shape, as yellow running lights do now. Changing their shape and placement would allow stylists to refresh each year's models with much more variety. But this has to be policed to prevent distracting oncoming drivers from concentrating on the road ahead of them.

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