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The Headlight Gap

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To the editors:

As a longtime fan I feel I must comment on Cecil Adams's recent column about headlights [March 2].

A couple of years back, we had occasion to rent a GM car. When we got out of this car with the headlights on, there was a sensor of some sort that detected lights on, door open, which in turn activated a device, to wit, a buzzer. Nifty, huh? However, on our Toyota, when I open the driver's door with the headlights on, a sensor detects same and activates a device, to wit, a shutoff switch. Thus, I could never burn out my battery from lights being accidentally left on. For those rare occasions when I want my headlights on, I need only turn them off and on again; in this state, they will stay on. So GM's reply about the security measure is so much wiper fluid. The pure common sense behind Toyota's approach, at what must be almost exactly the same production cost as GM's approach, is in my mind one of the major reasons why American car manufacturers are falling behind the Japanese.

My Camry, now over 75,000 miles, has at the same time managed the best mileage, the most comfort, and the least maintenance of any car I've ever owned. Only my old Ford Station Wagon had more combined storage and passenger room. And the Camry was one to two grand less than its American competition.

As long as we're ragging on car manufacturers, why don't all cars come standard with rear window brake lights? Is it true that they cut rear end collisions by some ungodly high percentage? If so, why don't insurance companies pay for them to reduce the number of accidents (and therefore their payouts)?

Richard Aronson

Los Angeles

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