Let me get my bias out right upfront--on the hood, so to speak.
I don't like this trend toward driving in the city with headlights on during the day.
On a dangerous rural highway with no center divider, OK, I can see it. I even do it when asked. But it seems a hollow gesture stuck in rush hour molasses on the Ventura Freeway or creeping along Melrose.
Visually soothing urban environments are scarce enough in Los Angeles without adding blazing headlights at high noon.
But some rental cars already give the driver no option. Dimmed headlights, called daytime running lights, are on whenever the ignition is. It can be a real drag for other drivers who aren't in on the joke.
The joke, in this case, comes from Detroit. The federal government decided in 1993 to override state laws and allow daytime running lights. General Motors embraced them as a safety measure.
They do cut down on accidents and even save lives, according to studies, by making cars more visible. New Volvos and Saabs provide daytime running lights, and they have been required equipment in Scandinavia and in new cars in the Canadian market for some time.
Some critics complain that making daytime running lights compulsory is a new form of government intrusion. Others say that headlights will wear out faster, or that once everyone uses their lights all the time, the driving populace will become jaded to all that glare and the safety benefit will be lost.
Chrysler is not sold on daytime running lights, maintaining that they work best at northern latitudes. Ford expects to make them available in some 1996 models.
My objection, though, is purely aesthetic. Anything that adds to the blighted excesses of the city had better be justified, and so far I don't feel safer seeing all those glowing Chevys.