Saturday, April 11, 2015

Broken Taillights? Really?

What is the deal with cars and taillights? In my experience, I have heard of many, many drivers (usually young men or minority people) who have been pulled over for driving with broken taillights.

Just last week, a policeman shot dead a man who ran away from the scene after his car had been pulled over for -- you guessed it -- a broken taillight.  Now it turns out the taillight may not have been broken after all.

You would think that the taillights on a vehicle are its most vulnerable spots.

This is not my experience.  I have seen many more cars with dented bumpers, missing rear-view mirrors, burned-out headlights and bashed-in side panels than with broken taillights.  Yet, when the police patrol our streets and highways, what do they find?  Broken taillights.

I could sort of see it if the problem were burned-out bulbs on the backs of cars.  There are several bulbs back there -- running lights for night, brake lights, bulbs indicating a car is going in reverse.

But bulbs don't burn out that often on cars, at least on newer ones.  And the complaint is always broken taillights.

Look at the car below.  It has a broken taillight, but the rest of its exterior seems to be in pretty good shape.  Is there a sort of collision that would cause such localized damage?  Do taillights explode spontaneously?  What's the deal?

My advice for young drivers or drivers of color is this:  Check your taillights.  Check them often.  If you find that one of yours has broken itself while you were not looking, get it fixed.  Immediately.

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