Shafick Emmambokus

 The bright white lights, some with a blue-ish tint, emitted from headlights of both cars and motor-cycles, are a real menace to road users during night-time driving and with it, comes a complete disregard to road safety.

I take issue with this and I have discovered that I am not alone. I have spoken to many fellow road users and members of the public and found that almost all of them concur with me. And like me, they all feel that it is now high time we have a serious debate on this and have it addressed – especially at a time when road accidents are happening at an alarming rate.

According to the Road Transport and Road Traffic Accidents Statistics of Mauritius, during the period of January to June 2017, there had been 15,037 road accidents, of which sixty-nine were fatal. I believe by now, this must be on the increase rather than the other way round. One death is always one too many and here we are talking about sixty-nine and may even be more. This, precisely, is the more reason why the authority or authorities concerned should aim at reducing accidents on our roads and therefore recognise the use of this kind of headlights as being an added risk we can do without and therefore have it banned altogether with strict and punitive measures taken against drivers who flout the rules.

These modern headlights found on our cars these days use a kind of bulbs which are known as xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) or Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) lamps. They produce a stronger, brighter and whiter light than the most common halogen one and can produce a dangerously dazzling effect at whosoever this light is projected. This is known as ‘headlight blinding’. Most modern cars nowadays are fitted with either of them and are, paradoxically, considered to be safe.

But there are also many with similar headlights fitted by inept car enthusiasts, using the so called after market HID conversion kits and it is these cars that are the worse menace. If road safety is to be taken seriously, then they must be banned from the road altogether.

Worse of all are those cars driven with their headlights turned on at full beam at the time when they must be dipped down. This can cause momentary blindness to drivers coming on the opposite direction, which as a result, can trigger accidents. Let alone headlights, some drivers even drive with the fog lights on even though there may be no fog. One wonders why? This is no other than sheer arrogance on their part and lack of consideration for others. They see this as ‘class’ when in fact it is ‘crass’.

There can be no better reason to believe that these strong headlights are hazardous than to hear what the experts/academics have to say….Dr Peter Hellig, a professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Vienna has reported that glare may make us wince and inadvertently shut our eyes. This, obviously, may then cause a split-second blindness which is enough to make the driver lose control and cause an accident. Another professor of Ophthalmology, Dr John Marshall at University College London has come up with the finding that- “at night the pupils open wider to let more lights in. At this point, when the eye meets a headlamp, the individual gets more ‘scatter’ and can’t see”…These are advices we can’t afford to ignore….One can therefore imagine how bad it must be for drivers who have cataract or who suffer from glaucoma and other eye conditions.

To wrap it all up, there are enough good reasons to convince us that these vehicles, both motor cars and motor bikes, fitted with these nasty sharp white headlights are a real danger to road users and can even cause death. It is therefore precisely for these very reasons that those in authority, whose remit this comes under (possibly the Road Safety Co-ordinator), need to take heed of warnings and get tough on perpetrators of this offence.

This is serious and not a ‘storm in a tea cup’.