Friday night circa 9pm. Conditions: dry, clear, dark, light-moderate traffic on 80kmph dual lane carriage
You may already know I'm what in the United States they call a Gear Head. Back over my side of the pond, a Petrol Head. Car lover. Obsessive. Nerd. Boy Racer. Frustrated Never Happened Racing Driver. Tonight however, this is just me, and a boring crappy shitbox of a 1500cc Toyota from a rental shop, trying to get home and learning the HARD WAY to MIND MY OWN BUSINESS. Tonight we are throwing in everything - Travel, living abroad, driving dangerously, and general petrol head things like Audi headlights.
At the end, if you read all the story and conclusion, you may become a safer and even faster driver yourself. Or utterly terrified - comments below please. Well the basic premise here is to blog more about cars, since it's one of my very unhealthy obsessions I should start just drawing upon something I find so enjoyable to drone on and on about ... It's truly an area of vastly unhealthy experience and knowledge for me. I've also driven on more than half the continents and corners of the globe ... in many interesting rides. It's time to get this stuff down! Do you like cars and stuff? Good. If not, sorry .....
Back to a boring drive in a blobby thing last night at around 26 meters per second ...
Now we cut to the chase and I'm going to describe a very ordinary drive home, in Thailand.
So I'm driving back from visiting a friend in the dark. Car following me, (brand new Audi TT) has full beams on and they are really annoying. They're bright as lighthouses and obviously dazzling drivers up front also. Oh, he can pass me, there are 2 lanes. I'm even out his way on the left lane at times to make sure. He just seems to like his shiny bright lights. It's smallest details reading the road and traffic around me, I sense a pickup truck ahead veering off course ever so slightly, as the driver must have swayed his head away from the dazzling Audi lights in his mirrors. All processed, gone in a blink as my eyes are now scoping further up the road, then concise glances to check lane conditions near and far behind me. All the while this amazing feat Audi have achieved, to engineer and harness the power of these miniature plasma nano-sized 'Sun' headlights, are obfusticating the concise real-time information I like from my mirrors.
AUDI driver is presenting hazard to myself and those around me
Pulling up at the next traffic lights, with maybe 8-10 cars in front of this Audi with me, and I'm placing a hand over my side mirror, so harsh is the beam bouncing in, the car cabin is lit brightly. These Audi lamps sure could catch a lot of squid. Seems like this Audi really wants us to see it or something.
Or is he attempting to catch squid? WHO KNOWS WHAT the salesman told him!!!
By now I ask myself of the injustice. Why are they piloting such a neat and fancypants battleship grey Teutonic sportscar, a new Audi TT, and don't even know how to use F&%^$&ING HEADLIGHTS AND DIP SWITCH?
Later in the evening I found out, no, it's just Audi being insane
What looks like lens flare in these photos will actually slice you in half like a lightsaber as explained in this Audi promo video. They attempt to explain it as adaptive but it is just unpleasant, and watch the video with no sound to appreciate how the lights actually dodge other cars so they don't get sliced in half. How conscientious Audi, your car has a computer to not dazzle me. It's not working btw, for those of us not in the Audi ....
Being the somewhat conscientious A*hole MOFO vigilante-i-should-be-killed-fool I am, and raging with pent-up male aggression, jealousy, and testosterone, I caught myself a deep breath. Only kidding, I'm just slightly annoyed and hatch a plan, to safely maneuver and taking (left) lane, to allow the Audi past, so I can pull behind it and put my own full beams to teach them a darn lesson.
Advanced tip: At night, you can tell when another car is having full-beam on when following them, as they will be lighting up higher placed reflective road signs brightly, or cat-eyes off into the distance. Full Beam can be used whenever there are no vehicles (especially cars and bikes) either oncoming (opposite direction) or ahead of you.
READY FOR THE TWIST?
At some split second point, and it can happen to you any time. You are making a road position yet another road user is suddenly acting out of turn, being aggressive, or whatever doesn't wanna let you in. Well, think worse. I'm about to cross back into the right behind this Audi, and someone else is angrily flashing lights from TOTAL DARKNESS
The space was actually clear for me to pull behind Audi, although just in a moment before I nudge towards the lane, always there is a last-moment over the shoulder glance/head flick you must do for final clearance; and there it was. THE GHOST FORD.
Barrelling along all the while in the darkness behind Audi miniature Suns, was a Ford with ALL the lights OFF. There it is, all my focus in snap attention is turned to this new kind of evil. All of a sudden, Audi lights are forgiven. At least we can see you (ALL THE WAY TO URANUS).
Previous calm becomes a new kind of utter danger. Ford is flashing at me for pulling in front of him, my rear view there is just shadow, of hard to spot Ford with lights still out. It's also now accelerating in some road rage at my tailgate. I'm now between Ford and the Audi. I calmly pull over left once more, let GHOST FORD pass, and pull behind it. Then start to flash my lights gently few times. They probably think I'm joking. Takes about .8km, then realizes, finally putting the lights on. Now hyper aware he just covered many KMs being dangerously invisible. I also figured, Ford and Audi - they're together. Both drunk? No doubt. Now they just cruise at 55kph, I'm actually laughing, and just head off into the distance. My lesson? It was still very stupid to interfere. Only experience and last moment checks (habit never broken) kept it from being a disaster of MY doing. Still, they sure got an embarrassing little hustle and fright from an off-white oxidized paint, maybe they learned something.
It is still a little worrisome, nobody has roadcraft, and nobody seems to follow any rules of the road here. You have scared slow drivers and unconsciously-incompetent self-taught maniacs, and the in-between competent-conscious is too few. It is of less surprise then to be Number 1 or 2 most dangerous per capita road-death rate in the world, not entirely attributed to lack of motorbike helmets and seatbelts alone. After all, some big out of control pickups and SUVs have to hit those non-helmet wearing bikes first, right?
Makes driving in Thailand sometimes feel like some vigilante Mad Max ride, but must just now zip along past and leave this sh1t show. On your way boys, keep those headlights dimmed. Annnnnd ... maybe get 70 hours of driving lessons from someone experienced.
CONCLUSION / TLDR
Whilst my actions were justifiably no further then backing off then flashing my headlights to warn these drivers, what transpired would have been safer to floor it, get up to 120kph, and leave these punks in the dirt.
Never take your eyes off the road. Look at all the road, side, around, ahead, behind. All the time. After some time you become able to soak up more and more subconsciously. Keep alert to this happening, even as your peripheral vision can get advanced after years driving - it is still just a possible early warning NOT a confirmation. Tonight I had at least 8 cars plotted by their lights alone ... and one I didn't see ... Drive safely.