HYDERABAD: It’s a Catch 22 situation for Hyderabadi drivers. Switch on the high beam, and you irritate the hell out of the drivers on the other side. Don’t switch on the high beam, and you are likely to bounce into one pothole or the other. As the Hyderabad Traffic Police launch a campaign against High Beam Driving, the dilemma is anything but funny.
Take for example, 42-year-old Sree Lakshmi’s experience. “We took the Hyderabad-Vijayawada Highway and it was after dark. While my husband was driving the car, an SUV coming from the opposite direction had high beam lights on. A lady was crossing the road, we couldn’t see and almost hit her,” recalls Lakshmi, who works for Maxcure Hospitals in Madhapur.
She drives a four-wheeler and two-wheeler and she shares how travelling on the city roads is “irritating” and also “unsafe” in the night.
Besides this one incident, “that was on the top of her mind”, she also shares how on the city roads, especially on dim-lit ones like the Tank Bund stretch, “it is always difficult to see who is in front of you as high beam lights are blinding.”
Abhilash, who drives for a living explains that he switches to high beam only when he is on a highway. “It is a signal for people coming from the opposite side to slow down,” he says. Ask him why people do it on the city roads? He laughs and responds, “They must be unaware. Also, a lot of roads are filled with potholes. To be able to see where you are going, you need to switch to high beam.”
Both Abhilash and Lakshmi agree that it is one of the reasons for accidents to occur.
Lack of civic sense
The Hyderabad Traffic Police don’t have data of accidents occuring due to obstruction of vision because of high beam lights. There is also no penalty for those driving with high beam at night. Additional Commissioner of Police, Traffic, Jitender says, that this is a civic issue. “I think it is something that people should be aware of. If they are driving, they are also facing the effect of harsh lights flashing at them. They have to understand that they need to drive with low-beam lights on city roads,” he says. He also says that not being able to locate potholes is not an excuse. “Most of the city roads are well lit up, except a few places. I don’t think that is the real reason. Even if they need to switch to high beam, they can switch back to low beam once they come on to a well lit street, right? he questions.
Will imposing a penalty make a difference? The officer responds, “It will be difficult to impose and moreover it has to do with civic and driving sense,” he emphasises.
Long term effects
Apart from accidents, exposing oneself to high beam lights on a daily basis has its effect on vision.
Dr Mandeep Y Lamba from Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospitals explains, “Though it doesn’t affect everyone, people with vision problems, allergies and sensitive eyes, are at a risk. It also is harmful for those who are prone to migraine.” The doctor also shares that there is an increasing number of people in the city now using different kinds of lenses who also at a high risk.
“The ultra-violet and violet rays produce glare and confusion when they hit the eye and that blinds the eye for a few seconds,” he says and advises the use of good anti-glare glasses while driving.