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DRIVETIME MAHATMA: High-beam use elicits fresh look

by Frank Fellone | April 6, 2019 at 2:10 a.m.

Dear Mahatma: Is there a massive safety recall for inoperative headlight dimmer switches? I have not seen one, but then my eyes have not recovered from my last night trip from Hot Springs. I figure that is the issue, as surely there aren't that many drivers who don't dim their headlights to oncoming traffic or for the vehicles they are following. -- Slewy

Dear Slewy: We went to the website of the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, putzed around but could not find any recall involving headlight dimmer switches. That's, for those who need to know.

Are you being sarcastic or sardonic or something like that, Slewy? We think so.

We did look up the applicable state law on this matter. Arkansas Code Annotated 26-37-211 is known also as "Use of multiple-beam lighting equipment."

It says two things of note.

First, that when a driver approaches an oncoming vehicle within 500 feet, "the driver shall use a distribution of light, or composite beam, so aimed that the glaring rays are not projected into the eyes of the oncoming driver."

Second, when a driver follows another vehicle within 200 feet, except when overtaking and passing, the driver shall use a light other than what is known as the uppermost distribution of light. In other words, use the low beams, dudes.

As per your request, Slewy, we asked the Department of Finance & Administration if any driver in 2018 was ticketed for this violation. The answer was:

Failure to use headlight dimmer as required -- 62 violations issued.

Failure to use lights as required -- 76 violations issued.

Dear Mahatma: I witnessed a bicycle rider run a red stop light to cross Chenal Parkway. Are bicycle riders held accountable to obey the traffic laws like car drivers? -- Pedal Pusher

Dear Pedal: Allow us to (re)answer a question that was one of the very first to appear in this column, way back in 2005. It was so far back the answer came from Lt. Terry Hastings of the Little Rock Police Department. He was the public information officer. Remember him?

Emphatically yes, Hastings said at the time.

For further proof, we took a look at Bicycle Safety in Arkansas, a publication of the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

We quote:

"Obey traffic signs and signals. Stop at STOP signs and red lights. It's the law to stop for a yellow light, too. This makes good sense -- rushing through a yellow light may not leave you enough time to make it across the intersection before the light changes."

But things change. We have learned of Act 650, signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson just this week.

This new law allows bicyclists to treat red lights as stop signs, and stop signs as yields.

We recall the Roman poet Terrance, who in our Latin class a century ago was quoted: "Nothing is constant but change."

Vanity plate seen in Russellville: TAXLADY

Metro on 04/06/2019

Print Headline: DRIVETIME MAHATMA: High-beam use elicits fresh look


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