I’m a perfectly good driver but I don’t enjoy driving in the dark on unfamiliar roads. Recently I found myself driving in the dark from one village to another on a country lane in the deepest darkest Wiltshire. For those of you unfamiliar with Wilshire, it is a county in the South West of England. Here’s a picture of a typical country lane in Wiltshire. These roads are just wide enough for a car to drive comfortably in one direction. If you see another car approaching from the opposite direction you need to slow down and pull over as much as you can or find a “passing” spot where one car can lurk until the other one has passed. There aren’t any fast rules as to who gets to pull over so I do the “whose car is more expensive” test when I drive – the more banged up car always gets to go first.
More often than not country roads aren’t what’s referred to here as “Roman” roads. Roman roads are straight so you can see down the road for a fair distance; for example, a typical West Coast road in the States would be considered a Roman road. English country roads are curvy and a bit arbitrary shaped. To make matters even more exciting as you drive towards blind corners, the speed limit is 60 miles/hour. And there are no lights at night … until you arrive at a village. For a city girl who is used to streetlights and having a lane for each direction of traffic, driving on these roads in the dark creates a bit of angst.
On that fateful night I left the first village with no one on the road but me. For once it wasn’t raining or foggy … perfect conditions for driving. So I adopted a “sensible” speed and carried on. However, after about 10 minutes, a couple of cars joined me. Clearly these guys were locals because they were hurtling down these roads at the speed limit yet I was having a hard time going faster than 40 MPH before having to slow down abruptly in order to make the tight curves without smashing into a tree or a farm fence. My driving was agitating them but there was nowhere to pull over so they were stuck behind the “slowpoke”. For about 20 minutes they continued riding my bumper. I finally got to the turn-off for my destination (much to their relief I’m sure) and I continued the rest of the journey on my own barely going over 30 miles per hour. My friends know I find driving on these roads rather stressful so a healthy-sized glass of wine was thrust into my hands as soon as they opened their front door.
So when I watched this clip from the CES on BMW’s LED headlight concept design a couple of weeks ago I thought these lights would make country driving in England a whole lot less stressful! I love how the light is brighter and can light up a fair distance without causing grief for opposing traffic and how it adapts to help you see around corners (great for country roads and their funky shapes). IMHO this concept takes automotive lighting to a whole other level.
Automotive lighting has changed by leaps and bounds in the past few years especially after the adoption of LEDs in their design. In fact some car manufacturers have taken advantage of the flexibility offered by LEDs to create very distinctive looks for their brand – when driving in the dark I bet you can always spot a BMW or an Audi.
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Until next time,