Friday night I pulled off Interstate 71 in Ohio to gas up. On my way back to the highway I found myself following an Amish buggy. I was struck by how hard it is to see a slow-moving black vehicle at night, even if it has a flashing red light on it. I think if I ever do any T driving at night I'm going to make sure it has a big lighting display that's a real attention grabber.
Steve - You're right. A black slow moving car on a dark road with a measley dark red kerosene taillight is very hard to see = a recipe for an accident.
We often come home in the dark from cruise - ins, so I have two tailights on our '26 Roadster Pickup, plus a bright red led flasher of about 4" x 6" which shows up very well.
The headlights aren't that hot either........
I'm waiting for my new lights from smart signals but in the mean time I have a flashing bicycle light on the back as well as my one T tail light. better than nothing but you can never be to safe.
I am also concerned about safety while driving at night. This post sparked a thought.
Its possible (in fact, easy) to purchase LED's in rope or sticky strip form. I put these under my wife's kitchen cabinets and they're quite bright without being blinding. They run off 12 VDC and use VERY little current.
I wonder if you used about 10 or 20 feet of these on the back of your T and either powered them off your 12 V battery or if you don't have one, use a lawn tractor battery. The lawn tractor battery should be good for several days of continuous lighting.
No fancy electronics needed, just an on/off switch.
I am unaware of any DOT rules that say you can't have white lights on the back of your vehicle. Am I wrong on that one?
Bicycle flashing LED lights can be VERY bright and go a long ways to improving bicycle safety. However, in many states, it is illegal to put flashing red lights on a motorized vehicle. Check your local regulations.
Listen guys if it's not what the moron behind you expects to see he isn't going to see it. Period. You need lights, as bright as a moderns, of the correct color, in the place their expected to be on the back of your car. Flashing LED's and other gee-gaws will only cause them to speed up for a better look. Steve was in Amishland and half expected to see buggy's on the road and he's telling us how hard they were to see anyway. Poor lighting + low speed. That's a buggy or a T. I guarantee 2 red lamps properly placed and of the correct brightness would make a world of difference but they won't do it and they have as much right to the road as you do.
The key word in Steve's lesson from the Amish is 'IF'.
I think I can have enough good times in my T in the day time. But who am I to say.
Coming up on a 35 MPH vehicle is bad enough in the daytime but at night its a whole different story.
Even though you may have a good rear lighting system its the speed difference that's literally a killer.
Things just look different at night. If you live in an area where there is not much traffic you can do it.
I'll drive mine in the daytime as much as I want and love it.
If I lived in a city with streetlights and slow speed limits, I might drive short distances at night, however, living out in the country with winding mountain roads and no street lights and higher speed limits, I choose not to drive any of my T's after dark. I do have working lights just in case of emergency I might be out later than I had expected, but don't make it a general practice to drive at night.
No matter how many lights one puts on a slow moving vehicle at night, it is still risky.
It kind of makes me wonder when some car companys are offering warning devices for things in front of the car,will they help or will people just think they can devote more time to texting,cell phone,e-mail,or computers?? It's your call but i still think there are roads Model T's do not belong on daylight or dark? Bud.
Night time drives in the T are some of the most enjoyable drives I've had...
Dark country roads, no traffic, and moonlit starry skies on a warm July or August night makes for one of the most peaceful and serene driving experiences one can have in a Model T.
That's the kind of stuff that makes the hobby worthwhile for me. I have factory 1925 6V lighting and a reflective SMV triangle. That seems to be sufficient in the light traffic we have around my area.
I think two bright tail lights spaced as far apart as possible would give the best chance of survival. Two not-so-bright lights spaced closer together would seem to give the illusion of the car being farther away than it is.
I did what I could with mine:
When I reassemble the Speedster, I may look at putting the lights, or extra lights under the fenders.
Here is what I did on my '14 Runabout:
Tail-turn signals are Truck-Lite arrows mounted under the rear fenders in custom-made brackets attached with JB-Weld (warning--JB does not conduct electricity so you need a dedicated ground wire) :
The running light has a tail-brake light combination light mounted in a NAPA socket:
The front turn signals are mounted in the running lights in NAPA sockets.
They had to have a dedicated ground wire to the frame since wood does not conduct electricity very well...
I used a Signal-Stat turn signal switch on the steering column for my turn signal switch. I have not heard glowing reviews of the switches offered by most of the Model T (or Model A) vendors.
So at night what you see from the rear is BOTH the turn arrows lighted-up as well as the running light.
It took my feeble mind about three months to figure this all out, so I just thought some of the ideas might be useful to others in the interest of our safety and well-being in these ancient vehicles that we insist on driving...
Excellent, Jon; thanks.
I don't drive my T much at night but, when I do, I want to be seen. I rigged up some trailer lights on a ratchet strap with a trailer light connector. I can strap this on to the back of the car in about 2 minutes when needed. Not too pretty, but effective.
You can get magnetic trailer lights from Harbor Fright for about $20.
Bud asked about white lights on the rear of a vehicle, YES, in California it is illegal to have white lights to the rear of a vehicle while driving on a highway (back up lights are OK)
this post got me to thinking, as when I first started driving my Model A, there were many pickups with only a single tail light, so I didn't think anything of having only one taillight and using hand turn signal. I will admit, that I haven't had my A out in a while, it's stuck behind some windows and cabinet that are waiting to be installed, but now I'm thinking about adding a second light (on my car, difficult to do, as you access the rumble seat over the right rear fender)AND to add them to my Ts (none drivable right now, but I'm working on that!). MANY of today's drivers have never seen a single taillight car in all their life, so I guess we'd better "up the ante" to be safer--or just to protect our cars!
I've driven at night and on a major highway...so far so good.
The other night a friend and I went for a ride and to dinner. The dinner took longer then expected and it got dark. On the way home I was having problems keeping it running (found out later that I had a fuel blockage) Coming down a main highway and fighting to keep the car running someone in a pick up truck stayed right behind us and followed us home and pulled into my driveway. I pulled the car into the garage and by the time I got done the pick up was gone. The following morning an old neighbor fellow rang my door bell and gave me hell for driving at night and then started to tell me what he thought the problem with the car was. He told me he has a Model A pick up and would never drive at night and saw I was having trouble and wanted to stay behind us so we wouldn't get hit. I guess I have good neighbors.
I figure When your number is up your number is up!
Enjoy your T
I don't worry about only one tail light. Motorcycles only have one.
Pennsylvania forbids driving vehicles with antique plates after dark, so it's an academic question here. However, the amish do drive their buggies at dusk, though I'm sure it makes them nervous.
I almost got rear ended in my 1910 Mother-In-Law roadster one night. I had the rear red kerosine lamp lite, but it was not bright enough. Since than I place a magnetic base LED flashing "Amber"
light on the rear. They are available from TSC and lots of hardware stores.
Flashing "Amber" is legal to the rear in Texas, a flashing "Red" indicates an emergency vehicle and is illegal. (I have been stopped with a flashing red and given a warning)
For you purist, the magnetic base lets you easily remove the light for shows etc.
i end up driving a lot in the dark so i added these led lights. they are flexible enough contour with shape of the body. i picked them up at autozone they are made to fit in the gaps between the taillights and trunk lid. they are 12 volt and attached with 2 sided tape i have them connected with a 12 volt battery from an emergency exit light
Do you remember when Uncle Sam mandated the third center brake light on all production vehicles? I do, and I remember how they stood out like a pimple on the nose of the prom queen! That is because they were new and you were not expecting to see them. Fast forward a bunch of years. When is the last time you noticed the mandated center brake light? In my opinion the more you add unusual lights to the back side of your T the better you will alert the average doofus that is texting while driving. The bad side of this is that unexpected flashing lights seems to attract the way over .08 drunk drivers. Just my .02.
We try to make things idiot proof but the idiots keep getting smarter and smarter!
It might just be a natural selection process.
Here's 16 feet of red LEDs for $14 (12VDC).
If I put them around my slow moving vehicle sign, hopefully that will wake them up!
(David: thanks for the heads up on the white lights - didn't realize they were illegal on the rear!)
You could use that LED strip to spell out STAY BACK! or BEWARE OF T!
I don't make it a habit to drive at night but sometimes I do get caught especially now with the short daylight hours. My neck of the woods is not real busy and my single T taillight is a bright one but it's always better to have bright tail lights.
These are the running lights when the head lights are on. The brakes make these two MUCH brighter plus the third light on the spare tire.
Here is the brakes in full daylight.
I worked closely for a company that hired about 1,000 Amish. Each community has different rules on lighting. The local community in the 1990's finally allowed 12 volt batteries and lights on the black buggies. This was after some tragic tragic deaths from cars striking the buggies at night. The company set up a free battery charging building where they could bring their batteries in during the day and charge them up. Really employee friendly place called JAYCO. They make RV's
superbrightled.com makes many assorted led lights for a lot of applications. My most recent purchase from them was what was called an electronic road flare. Blue, red or yellow, rotating or flashing or solid lights that are very bright. They are sort of like emergency vehicle lights and are probably illegal. But what is better, catching hell for having them or getting killed.
Look them up and decide for yourself. And they are portable and rechargeable.
David,When we toured the plant i could not understand how a assembly line would work for trailers?? Sideways!! We have a bought new 251 5'th wheel we haull our 18' enclosed car trailer behind.We also have a 339rk 2007 we bought 3 years ago for more room just camping.Bud.
Has anyone checked their state laws on the legality of a flashing red light on the rear of a vehicle?
Maryland laws are very specific concerning those flashing red lights and the use is limited to emergency vehicles and only the five senior officers of a local volunteer fire department are authorized to use flashing red lights.
The real problem with night driving is being over-looked here.
A Model T driving 25 mph will be over-taken and rear-ended by a vehicle driving 65 mph, before the faster driver can even judge the speed of the Model T and slow down.
The recent accident happened just after the Model T had topped the hill and started down another hill. There is a good possibility that the Model T was still traveling even less than 25 mph.
I use an old school bus strobe light. You can see it for miles.
Speaking of the Amish and modes of travel
I agree with the posters that mention speed. (or the lack of it actually). You can't get around it with a stock T. The picture shows my answer to rear turn signals/stop lights. My first time out with this set-up resulted in, truthfully, no change in the other drivers actions. Stopped at a light waiting to make a left turn on a multilane street a moron roared around my left side onto the wrong side of the double yellow line and made his left before me. Extreme I know but I realised that the "your in my way" mentality wasn't going to change because of a few lights. I went to the local show and got out of the car shaking and drove home with my heart in my mouth. I stayed in my development from that point on. I'm cured and would never consider night driving at all.
Willie: After your post on lights on the rear of vehicles, I looked around and found that in the Texas Drivers Handbook, Chapter 2, Optional Equipment for Vehicles Table 18 Flashing Lights: "Widespread flashing lights may be used on any vehicle to warn of unusual traffic hazards, must show flashing amber or white to the front and flashing amber or RED (emphasis mine) to the rear and must flash simultaneously". That is found on pp. 19 if you grab a copy of the Handbook from the local DMV.
Also; the Transportation Code , Title 7, Subtitle C Section 547.303 provides under a. Lighting device on rear must be red and have some red reflectors. b. a signaling device on the rear of a vehicle may be red, amber, or yellow.
Also; section 547.331 a. provides in part that hazard lights permitted...to warn ...approaching, overtaking or passing...
c. lamps shall flash...(2) red or amber...if on rear.
Have not researched how a "signaling device" is defined.
Hope this helps all of us who drive slow. As stated in previous posts I would rather visit with a law enforcement officer than a speeding driver.
I like3 Bud and Pauls bright red LED lights for night safety. Wondering if i could weave them in a big circle around my rear mounted spare connected to the 12 volt brake light??