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So We're All OK With Those Giant LED Light Bars?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro May 2017

So I'm driving home the other night from Washington, D.C., which is our nation's capital, to Philadelphia, which is our nation's capital of cars parked in the bike lane, and a lifted pickup passed me with one of those giant LED light bars. You know the light bars I'm talking about. They're huge, they're massive, and they're really bright. And everyone seems to be OK with that.

I first noticed this phenomenon a few years ago, undoubtedly at night, undoubtedly when I was blinded by someone with a giant LED light bar coming the other direction. Since then, the LED light bar trend has spread dramatically, almost unbelievably fast, to all corners of the globe. No joke, a few weeks ago I saw a Toyota Previa with an LED light bar mounted on its bumper.

The weird thing about this -- and American car laws in general -- is that even though these LED lights are about 74 million times too bright to legally be allowed on a vehicle when it's sold new, they can be added later without any problem. The only exception comes if you're living in a state with vehicle safety inspections, which most states don't have -- and even then, your LED light bar may be allowed to pass. This is primarily because federal laws about vehicle equipment primarily apply to cars at the point of sale and primarily ignore what happens later. That's left up to each individual state to legislate and each individual police officer to enforce.

So what happens is these LED light bars are absolutely everywhere.

Beyond the legality of these things, though, I'm surprised at another aspect of the LED light bar: the apparently lack of interest by most members of the public. People complain about everything, especially as it relates to undesirable vehicle modifications: That exhaust is too loud, that truck is lifted too high, that color is ugly, those rims are too big, blah blah blah. And yet I haven't heard any complaints about the LED light bars. Why is this? Are people just going to let this go completely? Even in today's age of taking offense?!

I'm tremendously surprised by this, because people seem to be into banning things these days -- like train horns on pickup trucks, and "rolling coal," and texting while driving. Obviously, all of these things should be banned, but how have the LED light bars been given a free pass? I would think this is next on the chopping block, but I haven't seen anyone, anywhere, in any circumstance, fight against them -- even though they're often used on the highway (rather than off-roading, where they're both intended and helpful), and they're often mounted at or above eye level for most vehicles.

Naturally, I do not plan to take up this cause, largely because I personally don't have enough time, what with trying to make it through season five of "Gilmore Girls" by Memorial Day. But you, dear reader, you should pursue this with all your vigor, or at least you should start one of those online petitions that don't accomplish anything. I would sign it. Assuming I'm not blinded by an LED light bar.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
So We're All OK With Those Giant LED Light Bars? - Autotrader