"We like camping better!" --Raymond Alexander Kukkee

view of the north shore Critter Pond, KOA Canandaigua NY [c] 2009 jcb

Tuesday Trivia, more trivial this time

Tuesday's so-called Trivia post has often ended up more substantial than trivial. Tonight I'll start off heavy, with a follow-up to yesterday's post about the motorcycle accident. That driver, a sixty-six year-old man who had been airlifted to the hospital with serious injuries, has died. No one will ever really know why he went through that stop sign, nor does it really matter. Very, very sad. Lighter load from here, then.

I tend to write a lot about driving, since I drive a lot. Makes sense. We all have our pet peeves about other drivers and the silly or stupid things they do. George Carlin said it best, in an appearance I saw here at the Auditorium Theatre years ago. He opened his monologue with this query: "Why is it that everyone who drives slower than you do is an idiot, and everyone who drives faster than you is a son-of-a-bitch?" We all laughed after just a half-second's reflection. Almost all drivers do probably think this way, most of the time. So I'll muse about something that has nothing at all to do with speed. I'm talking about headlights today.

Studies have shown that driving about with your lights on, regardless of how dark it might be, helps to prevent accidents. Hence the phenomenon of daytime running lights, and (more recently) light-level sensors that turn on all the regular lamps as the sun goes down. You can notice the difference in driving safety most clearly at dusk, when just a very few drivers have forgotten to turn on their headlights. I couldn't begin to count how many times I've nearly pulled out in front of an unlit vehicle -- you simply don't see them coming, since you're looking for lights. But that's not quite exactly my point, either.

Here in NY we have a law that says you have to turn on your lights whenever it's raining: if the wipers are on, the lights must be on as well. It's a good law, because visibility sucks in the rain, but you often don't realize how lousy the conditions are until it matters. With all the running lights and sensors these days, most of us don't have to think about complying with this law; it's automatic. Still, there are millions of cars on the road whose owner's still get to decide when to turn on their headlights. Here's my point: how is it that so many of the no-lights-in-the-rain cars are gray? Why would that be? I'll admit my research isn't very scientific, but I'm sure of what I've seen. The cars that suddenly appear around you, ghostly in a drizzle or downpour, are almost always some shade of gray or silver. Which, of course, makes them the most invisible they can be in those conditions. (I know, "most invisible" is pretty poor English. Sorry.) The big question, one which should be answered by some big university study, is: why just the gray/silver cars? Hmmm.

I could be wrong about this. There is that whole thing about selective perception, after all. But I'm fairly observant, and try to be fair in my observances. Observations. I believe there's something to this. Perhaps only a certain type of driver chooses to buy gray cars. Maybe it's genetic. It's definitely a little spooky. Don't you think so? I should've made this my Halloween post, huh? Maybe not.

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