I mean, hey -- i'm usually happy about automotive modifications that the police leave me alone about, but this aftermarket headlight trend is many times worse than a nuisance loud exhaust -- it can literally blind you for seconds during night driving.
I know I sound like an old coot but frankly I'm glad my dad showed me how to install/aim headlights and along with explaining the benefits of a working unmodified exhaust system and how it should sound.
Before Fast and Furious, I lived through the slammed mini truck / monster car stereo (speakers, speakers, speakers) craze of the late 80s.
And before that there were many, many trends, like muscle cars, etc.
It's always been like this...
It's also a good reason documentaries, classical and jazz music, and non-fiction books in all but self-help and cookbooks sell poor. I'd love to see a huge textbook covering pre-Calc through intros to harder topics like Real Analysis and Stochastics top the bestsellers for 22 weeks. But instead, people are buying the 5,431st political commentary about how we'll never recover from Trump unless we do everything the author says.
The car modification scene is only slightly younger than the car.
A dragstrip is a facility for conducting automobile and motorcycle acceleration events such as drag racing.
Although a quarter mile (1320 feet, 402 m) is the best known measure for a drag track, many tracks are eighth mile (201 m) tracks, and the premiere classes will run 1,000 foot (304.8m) races
But honestly, why these lengths specifically?
Many short races, for feet or horses, that started way back when are some number of furlongs.
Right next to the parsec, but only because of the Star Wars references :-)
It worked out so well because it gave people a way to experience car modding and illegal street racing in their own living room. If people are getting their kicks from street racing games... maybe we should make more street racing movies.
I think the nost blatent was when Tokyo drift came out, the next NfS had drift races.
Letting anyone do whatever they want can obviously lead to problems, like headlights that blind people or parts that fall off and kill the person behind them. But overall, I think I like the world where people are free to experiment and create.
Kind of like how smartphones are right now.
The obvious question here is - if you make these features work without paying(assuming you paid for the car outright), is that illegal? After all, you own the heated seats - you just installed an extra switch to put them on.
Versus something like hacking a subscription for satellite radio, where the feature in question is the content the service is providing, which is easier to frame as illegal.
Then there's the case of hacking hour Tesla to enable autopilot. The hardware is there (like the seats) but the functionality is continually updated via subscription.
I look forward to the lawsuits, with the hope that the consumer prevails.
If you try and hack through the DRM on the controller, they might try and get you for copyright infringement on the software on the controller. But if you just write your own controller, things might be different.
I don't mind soft-locked features too much since it can be cheaper for the manufacturer to just install it on everything than to build two separate models; plus it can be nice as a consumer to still have those additional features available if you change your mind later.
*Well, there's been one case where a second hand Tesla lost all the extra features that were paid for by the previous owner and Tesla argued that the new owner had to pay again, but I think after media complained they backed off and reenabled it
Then get a guitar or a paint brush.
Reminds me of the hotrodding chapter of John Muirs venerable How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive [...] for the Compleat Idiot that starts describing the interplay between various systems and how just throwing a hot cam into an engine and calling it a day is a bad idea. Basically - How to hotrod your engine:
2) if you must here’s what you really need to know
It al boils down to how much money police can get out of fines and how many licenses they can suspend, AND how easy they can do that.
If they lack measuring equipment, the fine is too low, police won't bother enforcing a law.
In Germany, headlight aim is checked at the 2-yea mandatory inspection, dito for exhaust stuff. Is that not a part of US checks?
Here (Italy) you have the first check/inspection after 4 years (for a new car) and from then on every 2 years.
Untrained people fiddling with their cars didn't start with The Fast and the Furious! If anything, this era marked the beginning of the end of all that.
The old timers "aged out" and into better, stock cars, and the young kids coming in could actually only do less with the available cars (modding anything reasonably recent is a frustrating and expensive task, and so were limited to things like headlights and exhausts).
When I wanted to put a small new lip spoiler on my car I got an insurance quote for 4x because of it. Suffice to say I left it stock.
Apart from that, not sure. Top Gear was always pretty good when it came to car culture, it's just a lot of surface level "car fans" just follow their word and end up being the face of the trend.
If anything, they get their inspiration from across the pond. TG is an older man's comedy show.
I think I spent roughly half the drive back with stars in my eyes from people in Audis and BMWs blowing by me with their ridiculously bright headlights. If I made the mistake of checking my blindspot at the wrong moment of glancing in the side mirror when one of them was blowing by me I'd be left half blind.
I don't know whether they were driving with their high beams on accidentally on a crowded expressway or if their lights were just that bright but it was a damned menace. Give me shittier yellow old style bulbs any day over that.
When people improperly load vehicles, especially when towing things like boats, the headlights tip upwards. You were probably seeing overloaded vehicles, trailers with high tongue weights because they pushed everything to the front rather than center the cargo over the axle. That pushes the back of the truck down and the headlights up.
1. Pickups are comparatively very popular in the US.
2. The US has more stringent regulations for towing than the rest of the world; a vehicle rated to tow 2000lbs in EU often is rated to tow nothing at all in the US. 
1) No tolls roads
2) No mandatory vehicle checks
3) No traffic cameras
My state gets a lot of things wrong, but they get those 3 things right.
I used to drive a Fiat X1/9, which is a very low car by modern standards, putting me on eyelevel with SUV/truck headlights. Preserving night vision can be more important than stereoscopy
You can see this effect clear as day when it's foggy - every other vehicle with projector headlights are aimed down, at the road, yet Toyota's (and Corollas especially it seems) are very blatantly aimed up, and at best are exactly level (which is still incorrect).
Honda drivers, on the other hand, seem to leave their high-beams on as a hobby. Over the 100k miles I've put behind the wheel of my truck in the past year, I could count on one hand the number of cars that have left their brights on, total. You'd need both hands to count the number of Honda's daily.
In the country I live in you’ll get honked to oblivion if you mess with that and blind the other drivers.
brightness isn't the issue, precision is.
Unfortunately those fancy LED setups are a headache for the rest of us drivers sharing the roads with those models, because they're also bright as hell from the factory.
Fortunately the tacky way Audi had implemented its rear-lights signalling wasn't adopted by the wider industry, and I think the VW group itself is having second thoughts about it. A rear-light should only inform me about the driving intentions of the car's owner, not visually distract me with its rear-life <marquee>-like implementation.
They're bright but they're not pointing to your eyes because that's not allowed in Europe either.
If you stand in front of your car and look at its LED lights, then duck down and look at the actual beam, you'll realize the great difference.
Even normal halogen bulbs can be blinding to other drivers if they're aimed too high. That's why such aim setup wouldn't let the car pass the MOT test either.
I agree however that the sweeping led indicator implementation isn't really of value
Really? I'd say about 10% of cars here are LEDs and an additional 25% are Xenons, and honestly it isn't particularly bothering. They don't blind you because the beam is pointed downwards.
> Fortunately the tacky way Audi had implemented its rear-lights signalling wasn't adopted by the wider industry, and I think the VW group itself is having second thoughts about it.
Not sure about that, they're rolling it our across VW models now, and Renault (or was it Peugeot) have started copying it on some models...
My bad then. At least I think they made the newer implementations a little bit less obnoxious, I can only notice them on Audis that are a few years old (like 2013-2015, even newer), on the newer Seats or Skodas they are not such in "your face".
> They don't blind you because the beam is pointed downwards.
Maybe the drivers around these parts of the continent are doing it wrong, thing is that driving at night has become particularly challenging when there's even slight traffic coming from the other way. And I don't think I'm that old (I'm 39) or with a particular bad eye-sight. It also doesn't help that I drive a small 1.4l hatchback while the majority of newer cars seem to be higher CUVs/SUVs, in which case them "pointing their lights downwards" practically means them pointing the lights straight at me.
People don't realize that with these lights, they put their own safety at risk.
But then we have TÜV and all kinds of laws around that.
Is this still a big problem? While I would have agreed with you, say, back in the 2000s when the whole "import tuner" craze was in full swing, I don't think this is popular anymore. The car mod scene seems to be close to extinct now, with whats left being a lot less crazy than those in the past.
Especially true for midwest drives across long stretches at night where the brightness is much more annoying than in the middle of a city.
If the truck is lifted, the brightest points of the light can hit you from further away, worsening the problem.
It is also bad when someone is behind you with this setup, especially lifted trucks. Some cars have a rear mirror that can dim them to tolerable levels, but not the side mirrors. So you'll get flashes from them as you drive unless you lean forward or angle the mirrors away.
The US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration actually has a suggestion for eliminating the glare and reducing blindspots 
What is worse about the LEDs is that they are sold as "compatible" to various vehicles, when that means they will work mechanically/electrically, but not optically (some actually try to put LEDs in the same spot as the filament). All of the units I've seen cause the car headlamp to put out light at higher angles than a halogen bulb will, causing more glare for opposing traffic.
No. Retrofitting Xenon bulbs is an expensive pain in the ass compared to dropping in some LED replacement bulbs for a marginal increase in light and little to no increase in glare or change in beam pattern because they're made to be geometrically equivalent to the halogen bulbs they replace (which they kind of need to be in order to work adequately in all possible applications for whatever bulb they replace)
At the very high end you can get stupid bright LEDs but pretty much nobody does that because they are expensive.
Most of the glare you see is from OEM headlight assemblies (regardless of the type of bulb installed) that were simply not designed with not blinding other people as more than a "check the compliance box so we can get back to optimizing for every other metric" sized priority.
Apparently it was to reduce dazzle and glare: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_yellow
In other EU countries they were however allowed up to a certain date (in Italy they are accepted only for vehicles built before 1993, and in the same date France made them not mandatory).
The yellow is not "a" yellow it is a very specific one, called "Selective Yellow":
Granted, I'm no expert on fog lights, so I could be misunderstanding the details of the situation. I've never owned them, so I haven't had occasion to know how they're supposed to work. All I really know about them is that they regularly blind me when I'm driving at night.
The Astrolux MF01 was all but made for this.
After that, as a pedestrian I'd rather have a full beam to the face than think a car might not have seen me, even if I'm safely on the pavement.
This sounds suspiciously like "There Are No Bad Safety Measures"
How are you at risk from a driver not seeing you, if you aren't anywhere near the road?
If a driver has to travel that far off the roadway to reach you, that driver's issue isn't low visibility.
Occasionally (and in my experience it is only a handful of poor actors compared with the number of cars on the road), I'd take getting intense glare as a pedestrian if it works in everyone's safety.
Appreciate it's a different call for cyclists etc, but as a pedestrian I'd welcome the trade off more than drivers not using their full beams when they deem it neccessary.
Another term for "What It Could Be" is "What It Isn't".
Your comment implied that drivers who instinctively switch on their high beams to get a sense of a situation where they need more visual input are "jackwads" which I tried to highlight isn't the reason they're doing it.
Wanting to see more when you're driving a massive piece of machinery at decent speeds isn't something that makes you an outright asshole.
If they've blinded countless pedestrians over an extended period, then they aren't considering anything. Inconsiderate people are jackwads.
Disobeying traffic laws in order to be nice is tricky, especially if doing so has an remote possibility to cause an accident. The blame will always be on the driver.
We should be glad the kind of person who would go out of their way to endanger themselves and others with something as useless and petty as... retaliatory light flashing is on a bicycle instead of a 2 ton vehicle.
The people who give cyclists a bad name are never self-aware
The xeon light addon for a porsche in 2013 was $2k.
Life safety is certainly a bigger factor with the headlights, but all other aspects are orders of magnitude more disruptive on the acoustic side. Having bright-as-sun headlights driving around town at 3am is not going to cause a lot of trouble for most residents (as they would be indoors sleeping peacefully). On the other hand, someone driving around at 3am in a turbo diesel truck with muffler delete may be able to single-handedly rouse your entire town from its slumber.
Which one of these actors has the most adverse net impact on society?
I suppose in terms of net impact to society, there's no way of deciding without knowing in advance if the hypothetical victim is Mother Theresa or Hitler, so it's kind of a wash.
But for me (and feel free to disagree), I'm going to err on the side of preventing a devastating impact to a small number, over a minor annoyance to many.
They may be great for the driver, but getting blinded isn't much fun for oncoming traffic.
> "When a car approaches in the oncoming lane, the 911's headlights dim around it while leaving the rest of the pattern bright."
And what if it's a bike in the incoming lane? Or on the separate bike path on either side of the road? Will it detect that?
Because too often, clever car technologies don't properly account for other traffic than cars.
They aren’t even good for the drivers themselves. The blue light kills your night vision and makes it impossible to see into shadows.
Car headlights (and road lighting) should have a limit on the maximum power at each wavelength, with very strict low limits in the blue part of the spectrum.
The marketing of blue headlights is based on almost fraudulently misleading claims about the visibility and power efficiency they’ll provide. They should be banned.
Does the oncoming bike have a headlight?
My car doesn't have matrix headlights (since I'm in USA) but it does have a necessary tool. It has a camera which detects oncoming vehicles.
In my experience the camera works quite well. It dims my headlights more quickly than I can react manually. It also dims them when there's a lot of overall lighting (such as street lights).
I can't attest to the specific situation of a bicycle. Around here, riding a bicycle after dark is a dangerous thing to do.
And that's the exact thing that needs to change.
When I was a teen, I rode 10 km each way to school next to a very busy road. In winter, it was still dark. The combination of rain and oncoming cars would make me completely blind.
Even people who design bicycle facilities don't consider this. They'll happily install a bidirectional bike lane where contra flow cyclists are effectively riding against motor vehicle traffic. This puts cyclists on the wrong side of the headlamp beam.
Without the consumer demand that Google/Apple Pay (and later coronavirus) created, we still probably wouldn't have widespread tap-to-pay.
I honestly can't remember the last time I actually used my debit card to buy anything. With tap limits of $100 per transaction and $200 per day, 99% of my regular purchases can be made through my phone. It's very rare I take my wallet out of the car.
Similar to stuff like the common free international roaming, SEPA is something that the EU massively fought for the consumers against the entrenched players.
Basically it pays to be backward with these things - you skip many bad solutions and can learn from others. Our bank system was reconstructed almost from scratch in early 90s so it's quite modern now.
According to our sales guys who say that US banks are the worst when it comes to new technology, Australian banks are the best apparently. Apparently there were some government initiatives to force the banks to use new technology, some really leaned into it and even changed entire management layers.
But are somehow fine with crappy magstripe easily cloned cards. Bit odd how they judge risk
I'm not old enough to have had to do that anywhere else - 'Chip & PIN' was required in the UK from 14 Feb 2006; I'm not sure how long before that it became available/widely used.
Some places used to check IDs though.
We see this in other systems like NYC’s metrocard VS London’s Oyster. Metrocard was an early system that works reasonably well. Now the MTA is deploying a new modern system as metro gets near its planned lifetime.
I think the USA has been far more innovative with credit cards that give rewards. Many of my EU friends complain they can’t get more airline points, etc with their cards.
So did many other places.
> I think the USA has been far more innovative with credit cards that give rewards.
US credit card schemes charge merchants massively more, so yes, these fees can then be used to give "rewards". EU cards have lower rewards because the fees are limited by law.
It's not something to be proud of. You're paying higher prices as a result.
It’s weird though that 3x as many Western Europeans move to the USA than the other way around.
I think you do have higher incomes, generally, and a lower tax burden. Fewer government services too of course. Not sure that's much to do with credit card reward schemes though :)
The UK had well developed credit card infrastructure before Chip and Pin too. This is not the reason.
The US market was just massively more resistant to change, and was able to put a stop to the banks' liability shift tactics.
Apparently they pay with their phone. They scan a QR code and get the bill on their phone... or something. I've never experienced it myself.
But they always say that doesn't count. And I see why. You still gotta wave down a waiter, ask them to go fetch a machine, wait for them to come back, potentially sending them back because they split it incorrectly. That's not the same as scanning a QR code on the table, having it load up your bill, splitting it if needed, and making the payment. If that works as well as I imagine it to, that could all be done in the time it takes to wave down the waiter.
Since it lacks a second authentication factor the compromise is to limit how much can be spent if the card is stolen.
The US could skip chip and pin if it switched directly to contactless mobile payments.
Adding localized and very complex feature is likely very low on their to do list, especially as their RD spending is ridiculously low, and trending downward for last few years.
They won't do it though, because as you say Tesla does most stuff just as well, if not better, on their native UI. And they want to keep people in their ecosystem.
The main advantages of CarPlay on Tesla would be: 1) ability to install 3rd party apps, and 2) Much better voice support. But both of these are things that Tesla could implement/improve in their own software.
I quite enjoyed CarPlay in my Honda, it solved a huge hole. But I really don't find that same hole. The only apps I really used was maps, and podcast app. I have both in the tesla info-tainment section.
Would be cool if they opened the market for third party apps, could be handy for some stuff... perhaps someday?
I guess no reason that couldn't work. It wouldn't not anything about battery health, and it would require a cable which most people don't use, but it could work.
It was very short lived option.
> It's silly to call them simple because they lack some esoteric features
Esoteric to people buying used 10 Toyota’s (there nothing wrong with that btw). But standard in high end cars. I’ve listed only few that come to top of my head, but it’s very long list, from features, through tiny gadgets in interior, sound insulation, and many others
> while ignoring useful features they have that other cars don't, such as dynamic software updates
Exactly as I said, powerful computer.
Tesla is really good at computer stuff and drivetrain stuff. But they are very poor at rest of the car stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that - different people have different priorities for what they want from their cars.
But let’s not dismiss validity of the features, just because someone’s favorite toy doesn’t have them.
“Each of the 911's lighting units includes 84 individually controlled LEDs that allow the car to continuously morph the pattern of its beams. When a car approaches in the oncoming lane, the 911's headlights dim around it while leaving the rest of the pattern bright. The other driver doesn't get blinded, but you still have blazing lights on your side.”
This allows you to block out certain portions of the beam so you don't blind other drivers as they approach.
My apologies if it sounded to you as something I was saying could realistically be done with projector headlights.
They're pretty neat! You can drive on a highway, have high beams lighting up signs but not dazzling other drivers.