Driving at night, especially when it’s raining, terrifies me. My eyesight isn’t great to begin with, and usually by the time night rolls around my contacts have started to dry out. But the thing that bothers me the most about nighttime driving is other people’s headlights. I’m convinced that everyone but me drives with their brights on constantly.
What irritates me most is the light reflected in my rear-view mirror. If the car behind me is close enough, I have a hard time gauging just how far behind me they are. It spikes my anxiety, especially if we’re on a single-lane road and I can’t somehow get them to pass me. Often, I start to feel as if I’m being followed.
What should one do if they’re being followed by a strange vehicle? Try to let them pass? Outrun them? Outmaneuver them? You can’t go home, as that’s completely giving up your safe space. You might get stuck, perpetually followed, until you decide on how it should end.
This story was borne from those feelings. Back when I played hockey at a certain rink I had to drive down Route 476 all the time, often after dark. The lanes on that road between Springfield and Norristown vacillate between two and three, before settling on two as you pass the tolls toward the Lehigh Valley. It struck me how terrifying it would be to look in my rear-view mirror to see nothing but headlights. To be followed, with no recourse, and no hope.
I hope the story makes raises your blood pressure a bit the next time you see headlights in your rear-view.