Breaking Braking

Midnight wrapup

Found another car with no brake lights. He just had them replaced, so clearly some other wiring problem.

Final tallies for Monday:

  • Cars with no brake lights at all: 2, both notified, one already aware.
  • Cars with one brake light: 3 or 4. One slipped away before I could verify. All I confirmed were notified.
  • Cars with two brake lights: at least 30, of which at least two thirds were missing the 3rd brake light, and of which roughly one quarter I notified.
  • Cars with one running light: 1, already aware.

Busy day.

I’ve written previously about my hobby, perhaps habit, maybe addiction: paying close attention to brake lights and alerting people when they’re malfunctioning.


Since then there’ve been some interesting moments, like the time I unsuccessfully pursued a Nitro with roughly 0.6 brake lights but thanks to the detour I was able to tell someone in a VW cabriolet that he had no brake lights at all, or the time I had to explain to someone they had at least 3 different lights out, although they still had functional lights on both the right and the left.

Or the time I couldn’t figure out how to explain to a deaf driver on a major roadway after dark that his DRLs were on, not his headlights.

Or the friendly reverend/lawn care specialist I met Friday night who was driving without functional lights on his trailer. (He keeps business cards for both his church and his lawn care service, but didn’t have the former with him. If you live on the east side of Indianapolis and are interested in having Reverend Harris cut your lawn, let me know and I’ll send you his phone number.)


Incidents seem to come in waves, which I suspect is a function of both the level of attention I’m paying (once I notice one, I start focusing more) and the income level of the areas I’m driving through.


Today was a tidal wave in downtown Indy. I drove less than 4 miles to grab some lunch, and after one block I saw a white SUV with two lights out. Pulled into a left turn lane to let him know, so after making the unnecessary turn that added three blocks to my route.

As soon as I got back onto my street, I saw a black SUV, also with two lights out, turning a different direction. So I successfully chased them down and added half a mile to my route.


There was the red pickup as I was completing the second detour, with a 3rd brake light out (pickups seem particularly susceptible to this). There was the red Jeep XJ with a 3rd brake light out. A white Honda Pilot with a 3rd brake light out (definitely a theme today) that I couldn’t catch.

And the idiot driving some modern sporty car with all three brake lights out. I label him an idiot because he knew about the problem; he was driving with headlights on to simulate brake lights, which...whatever. Idiot.


As it turns cold, I’ll definitely be loudly conversing with fewer drivers. If you have a single brake light out and your windows aren’t down, I’m not going to expend any effort. Or if I have to reach over and unzip my passenger side window, ‘cause ain’t nobody got time for that (and because I have to unbuckle my belt to reach it).


But two brake lights and I’ll definitely put some work into it. All three and I’ll do my best to make time to follow you as long as it takes because creepy stalker older guy doesn’t raise a red flag for anyone, right?

Share This Story

Get our newsletter