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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:01 am 
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emsvitil wrote:
How are DRLs aimed differently than low beams?


Low beams are asymmetrical; they direct most of their light downward-rightward (in countries where traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road). They're specifically designed to keep tight control over light directed upward-leftward toward other drivers' eyes. That's what makes them low beams. DRLs have a symmetrical, horizontal-oval or horizontal-rectangle beam centred straight ahead of the lamp. They're specifically designed to send light toward other drivers' eyes not only in the oncoming lane, but also at wider angles.

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Are they aimed like high beams?


DRLs and high beams are both symmetrical, centre-weighted beams.

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What about a DRL that is high and low beam in series so they're running half voltage each ?


It's legal in North America, and automakers like it because it's the cheapest way both in terms of install cost and warranty costs (Americans are thoughtless enough to insist on warranty coverage of headlight bulbs) but it's a cruddy way of doing it, for a bunch of reasons I can go into if you really want. Nutshell version: high beam DRLs cause unreasonable amounts of glare, are almost invisible except straight-ahead, make it hard to see the nearby turn signal, and gradually degrade the ability of the bulb to provide full high beam performance.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:34 pm 
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They're specifically designed to send light toward other drivers' eyes


So that's why they are blinding me all the time! :D :D

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:08 pm 
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mpgFanatic wrote:
I try to alert drivers if I can, but the only way that works is via a conversation while waiting for a traffic light. You can flash til the cows come home, nobody gets it. Mostly because they truly don't understand their lights might possibly be off.


Totally agree. It's almost not worth it (small percentage will roll down the window, a small percentage of those will listen and not just smile and nod, a small percentage of those will attempt to do something about it, and a small percentage of those will make it better (full lights on low beam) rather than marginally better (DRLs + tails) or worse (full lights on high beam).

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But especially with the Chrysler push-pull control, I've found that it takes concentration to limit the motion to the "only parking lamps". For me, even the most casual swipe illuminates all bulbs. That switch was pretty much foolproof.


That kind of switch was about 99.9% universal across most makes and models for many years. Didn't matter what kind of vehicle you got in, you knew how to turn on the lights. Now we're talking about standardisation and rational design of controls and displays, another of my interest areas. Chrysler wrote and presented an interesting paper in 1962 dealing with this topic. I have it somwhere in my stacks. It is especially interesting because it was written when "ergonomics" was a brand-new word and well before the advent of most of the basic principles of that field, and well before the concept of a "user interface" as we think of it today. One of its well-illustrated theses is that there is a right way—or, more to the point, there are many wrong ways—to design and configure controls and displays, and the right/wrong determinants aren't necessarily obvious or uniform. A particularly interesting example is the instrument cluster illumination rheostat. For decades on American cars (and some others) this was built into the pull-knob headlamp switch: rotating the headlamp knob clockwise dimmed the panel illumination, anticlockwise brightened it, and fully anticlockwise past the detent turned on the dome light. That violated a general convention that clockwise = more/higher/brighter and anticlockwise = less/lower/dimmer, but attempts to bring that control into accord with that convention met with extreme distaste. Nobody wanted it changed. A particular way of doing it had been standard for so long—originally as a result of the easiest and least complicated (and least costly) way to make it—that everybody knew how to work the control and nobody had to think about it or guess at it or consult the manual, even in a car they'd never driven before. There was absolutely nothing practically the matter with the "backward" rheostat, and the only people who complained about it were noxiously dogmatic pedants.

Eventually the pull-knob headlamp switch with its inbuilt IP rheostat was supplanted by other designs—notice how most of the industry now uses what was originally a Japanese design where you rotate the turn signal stalk forward to turn on the lights—but these kinds of questions remain. It's been awhile since I drove a Mazda, maybe seven or eight years, but I always found it a nuisance to drive one as a rental because their windshield wiper controls operate backwards to those of the rest of the industry: rotating the stalk forward (clockwise as viewed end-on) to the first detent gives the shortest windshield wiper interval, and further in that direction lengthens the interval/slows down the wipers. Everyone else does it the other way: first click is slowest, and further forward/clockwise rotation speeds up the wipers. This is exactly the same backwardness as the old IP rheostat, but this time it's a damn pain because it's not standard, it's opposite-of-standard. Same with their manu-matic transmission control: the standard is nudge the lever forward or rightward to upshift, rearward or leftward to downshift. Mazda's are rearward to upshift, forward to downshift. That's nonstandard and counterintuitive. It needlessly forces the user to think about the interface, which is a distraction from actually driving the car.

Now we have controls that are different for the sake of being different. Perhaps it's pure "because we can!" wankery, or perhaps it's been determined "new" is more important to Millennials than "functional". Either way, the safety standards can't prevent this kind of thing, because they were written in a context where technological factors constrained the design and configuration of controls and displays to a much greater degree than is now the case. For years an automatic shifter pretty much had to be either (overwhelmingly most commonly) a lever that stayed at whatever detent the driver moved it to, or a group of five or six pushbuttons, the selected one of which stayed pushed until another selection was made. The vehicle on/off control, the ignition switch, pretty much had to be an insert-and-rotate-key arrangement. So there was no need for regulations to exert any of those kinds of constraints.

Now those technological backstops have fallen away, so we get dumb turn signal levers that spring back to the central position after they've been tipped to activate the signal, dumb engine start/stop pushbuttons that cause safety problems like this and this, and some super-dumb gear selectors. Many of these novel controls are not, in any practical sense, improvements over what came before. Hey, suddenly, it’s 1958! That was the year Ford effed up pushbutton automatic transmission controls the first time. It was on the Edsel, and unlike Chrysler’s simple, dependable bowden-cable system, the Ford arrangement was a crapmess of solenoids, wires and switches that didn’t stay working and didn’t stay fixed.

Now just look at the dumb screwup Ford made. Trouble is, the start/stop button is next to the S button which toggles the transmission’s “sport” mode (later/firmer shifts). Purely a toy for when the SUV driver feels like pretending it’s a sports car. So it’s likely to be pushed without much thought any time the driver’s bored. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is “nobody could have foreseen this” and 10 is “as predictable as finding flour amongst the ingredients of white bread”, this UI design stumble ranks 79. The recall was expensive, and it absolutely didn’t have to happen.

I’m reminded of the current (as of 2016, the newest one I drove) Dodge Charger, which has the backglass defog button right next to the same-size, same-shape button to disable the traction control. The rear defog has a short timer, so in bad weather the driver has to reactivate it repeatedly. That means either taking eyes off road to stare at two small buttons in the centre stack, or doing it gropewise with a 50/50 chance of tufning off the traction control instead of turning on the defog. In bad weather. Durrrrr!

Today's cars really are a whole lot safer than those of even just 10 years ago, let alone anything older than that, but at the granular level not everything has improved. If there had been better oversight (i.e., appropriately stringent, relevant, and responsive regulations), a significant amount more death, injury, and property damage could very likely have been prevented than has been.

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