I spent some time back in Montana over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Spending some time driving in a normal state made me realize how ridiculous drivers are in Nebraska.
In Montana, especially eastern Montana, there are a lot of deer. A LOT OF DEER! When you drive in the rural areas after the sun’s gone down, you have to constantly scan the sides of the road looking for any sign of movement. I lived in Montana for most of the first 22 years of my life; I hit two different deer on two separate occasions. If you live in Montana and you drive at night, you will almost unavoidably hit a deer. Something that Montanans realize is that it’s a heck of a lot easier to catch the glint of a deer’s eye in the headlights if your headlight beams are on high. Thus, people in Montana, when approaching another car at night, usually dim their headlights about 4 to 5 seconds before passing the other car.
Nebraskans (and, to be honest, Wyomingites are even more anal about this than Nebraskans) start flashing their headlights from high-to-low in an effort to get you to dim your lights at anywhere from 1/2 mile to 1 mile away. This means these morons are flashing you at 30 seconds to 1 minute away! Seriously! If these old Germans have such poor eyesight that they need oncoming lights on dim at this distance, they should have their licenses taken away… not only because they are increasing the risk of roadside hazards becoming unexpected surprises, they also just annoy the CRAP out of me!
These light-flashing idiots used to get to me so bad that I would wait until I was about 4 or five seconds away before I would dim my lights just to make them mad. Of course, this backfired, because the light-flashing nincompoops started sticking it to me. By “sticking it to me” I mean that they would wait until the last second and then hit me with all that they’ve got… high beams, low beams, and if they got ’em, fog lights, all at once. The blinding brightness usually lasted well after the other car passed and made me even madder. I actually considered turning around and running the idiots off the road on more than one occasion, but doing hard time because grandma Schultz ticked me off on her way to make butterballs at church wouldn’t sit well with the wife. Instead of tinkering with my blood pressure more than need be, I have attempted to learn to conform to the local idiotic driving patterns.
And then I went to Montana and re-experienced night driving the way it should be: safely avoiding the hazards at the side of the road. On our return trip, it started getting dark right about the time we arrived in our local driving area… and I once again had morons flashing their lights at me from up-to a mile away.
I wanted to get this straight once and for all. Tonight, I went to several states’ DMV websites, including Nebraska and Wyoming, to find out what the law is regarding distance for dimming headlights when approaching another vehicle. Nebraska did not list a specific distance. It did list a distance of 200 feet when approaching another vehicle from the rear but it didn’t list a distance for forward-approaching vehicles. 200 feet from the rear was the same distance I found on several other websites, except for the Wyoming site which put this distance at 300 feet. The funny thing is (and I don’t mean funny in the sense of “ha ha” but more in the sense of making you want to stick a red-hot steak knife into your eyeball) the distances on the sites I visited regarding the correct distance to dim you lights when approaching another vehicle from the front ranged from 300 feet to 500 feet. The Wyoming site stated 500 feet.
So, you might ask yourself, how long would it take for two vehicles to meet each other from a distance of 500 feet… considering a speed of about 55 mph? Thanks for asking! The Wyoming Driver Manual, on page 75, states… and I quote… “You should dim at least 500 feet (about four to five seconds) before meeting an oncoming vehicle.” I kid you not!
So, let’s see if we can get Adventurer Rich’s situation all straightened out. I have been dimming my headlights in a very legal fashion and should have increased the safety on the road (due to potential roadside hazards) in the process. The stinking knuckleheads that blast me with all that they’ve got are, in reverse, breaking the law because they think I am breaking the law (which I’m not) and causing a danger to me and anyone in my car by obscuring my vision with their temper tantrum… not to mention that they are tempting fate that I don’t have a temper tantrum of my own, turn around, and run their sorry butts off the road!
Let’s see if we have learned a little lesson here. If you are driving on one of the many rural highways in western Nebraska or eastern Wyoming and you come across a gent who refuses to dim his lights at 1/2 mile away, proceed with caution. If you get to anywhere from 10 to 4 seconds away and he then dims his lights, remember that he is acting in a completely legal fashion. If you, at this point, decide to blast him because he didn’t dim his lights when you wanted him to (law be damned!), accept that he may very well turn around and do everything within his power to see you run off the road (which would be no more illegal or put any more life in danger than you did by blasting him with your headlights.) And the number one thing that I hope you have learned is this: if you would even consider flashing your lights at someone when they are 1/2 mile away in an attempt to get them to dim their headlights… you need to turn in your driver’s license, Grandpa, ’cause you shouldn’t even be on the road!