Night Vision.. by JoAnn

A car driving down the road at night with moon in background.

I haven’t always enjoyed driving. I was extremely nervous when I took Driver’s Ed class back in high school. Even after passing that class and receiving my license, I was still not too interested in being the one behind the wheel. However, after graduating high school, I realized I wanted a job and some much-desired independence. This meant I would have to grit my teeth, get in a car, and drive.

Over the years, I learned to be a safe driver. I would drive my kids to school and back, along with wherever else they needed to go. But I still remained a somewhat nervous driver. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I truly became comfortable driving and enjoyed it. Once comfortable behind the wheel, I began driving my three daughters the 400+ miles to my parent’s home each summer for a vacation. That gave me a wealth of experience and the confidence I needed behind the wheel. I loved the independence I had earned.

It has now been over forty years since I learned to drive. I still enjoy a nice leisurely drive on the country roads where I live in Tennessee. Beautiful scenery, fresh air, and sunshine always brighten my day. Unfortunately, I now find it a chore to drive at night. My night vision seems to be dwindling with each passing year. It’s no real bother to stay in my neighborhood. I can make a quick trip to our neighborhood store, gas station, or my daughter’s. But that’s as far as I feel comfortable driving after dark.

There is another reason besides my poor night vision as to why I no longer want to drive after hours. One that is a huge pet peeve for me. The new super bright LED headlights that are now installed on vehicles. They must be wonderful for the vehicle’s driver, as they can probably see with enough clarity to spot that raccoon ready to cross the road. But for the person in front of them, it’s not so much fun. They are blinding!

Those super bright lights quickly give me a headache when there is heavy oncoming traffic. They can even be disorienting. For some reason, mainly in the small county where I live, people who drive big pickup trucks enjoy getting on the tail of my small compact car and letting their bright lights shine through every inch of it. It is likely the younger folks and not the older, more experienced drivers. I have not noticed this happening except in my small county. For some time, I’ve wondered if it is a fad among younger drivers. Surely they are not in such a hurry that they need to crowd me by riding my tail. I have never had anyone try to run me off the road. They just like to hang close behind and try to read the writing on my dashboard with their brights. I’ll admit I have lost my religion a few times when my little car is being lit up like a Christmas tree by a pair of those LED headlights.

My daughters are probably relieved that I have decided to only drive in my own neighborhood at night from now on. I, on the other hand, have mixed emotions. Even though I know it’s the right thing to do, I still can’t help but feel like I’m giving up some of my independence. And wondering if this is just the first step to eventually hanging up my car keys for good. I’m hoping it’s not.