It’s been slow going, but my little Pao is now almost fully repaired after I smacked into a (possibly inebriated) deer a few months ago. In that Pao-vs-venison mashup. One of the casualties was a hard-to-replace official Pao yellow fog lamp, so I had to think of some alternatives. I’m testing a solution, but I’m not convinced I’ll stick with it. Maybe? I need to actually see how it works, and, you know, maybe talk it out. With you.
As you may be aware, I’m sort of an automotive lighting fetishist, and one of those ways this particular affliction manifests itself is that I really like yellow fog lamps.
When I got my Pao, I was delighted to find that it came with the factory-option light bar and yellow fog lamps, not because I live in a place shrouded in clouds and fog, but because I’m just a huge sucker for the look.
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I freely admit they’re sort of an affectation. They don’t do a whole hell of a lot when it comes to lighting up the road, but they make me happy, dammit, so that’s good enough.
Anyway, as you saw in the picture up there, one’s dead, murdered by the uncaring, furry flank of some buck, so now that it’s time to rebuild the car, I need to make a decision.
I could just get a new set of round yellow fog lamps, of course. The vast, vast majority of the human population wouldn’t know or even pretend to care that they’re not official Pike factory fog lamps, and they’d likely look just fine. That’s still a very viable option that I may come back to.
Still, when you’re putting a car back together, that’s a great time to experiment. My resolve to not hit any more deer being stronger than ever, I decided that maybe it would be a good idea to at least have the option of really illuminating the shit out of the road when I’m driving along the sort-of dark back roads where deer especially like to congregate and, you know, kill themselves by running right in front of you.
I actually drive back roads like that with a good amount of regularity, so I got one of those really bright LED driving lamps and had it installed on the driver’s side to replace the lost lamp:
Ignore that wire — it’s not all done yet. But you get the idea. It’s a very asymmetric look. And sometimes I kind of like it, and sometimes I’m not so sure.
I’m pro-asymmetry on cars in general, but it is tricky to pull off well, and I’m not convinced this does. I’m not convinced it doesn’t, either, and I kind of like the utilitarian feeling it gives. Plus, I realized that one of my go-to doodles, this funny little robot man, I always draw with asymmetrical eyes:
In my head, I always imagine one eye is for close-up/macro vision, and the other is for wide-angle, distance stuff. So maybe differentiated lights is on-brand for me?
Would it be better if the smaller lamp was yellow, too?
Really, I think I need to test the bright white light and see if it actually makes a lot of difference when I’m driving on really dark roads. If it’s genuinely useful, then I’ll keep it, looks be damned.
The only problem is, I’m not sure that it’ll really help deter deer, thanks to some information provided, by surprise, from one of my favorite authors: Mary Roach, who just wrote a book called Fuzz that actually talks about the problems of deer-car interactions:
So, Mary suggests building fake deer asses to put on the sides of the road. And, while she had me at “asses” I don’t think it’s really a viable solution for me. What may be more practical could be turning that light 180 degrees to illuminate the face of the Pao:
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS) program, this is what works:
Through a series of experiments with free-roaming white-tailed deer, researchers at the WS program’s National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) found the use of a rear-facing light-emitting diode (LED) light bar‒which illuminates a larger portion of the vehicle’s front surface than standard headlights alone‒resulted in fewer dangerous deer-vehicle interactions. The likelihood of dangerous interactions decreased from 35% to only 10% of vehicle approaches when using a rear-facing light bar plus headlights versus just headlights alone. The reduction in dangerous interactions appeared to be driven by fewer instances of immobility or “freezing” behavior by deer when the light bar was used.
Lighting up your grill helps make your vehicle a more “looming image to deer” which helps them to get the hell out of the way. And, looking at pictures of what they’re talking about, I bet that light pointed at the Pao’s grille would do the job:
Would it be distracting to drive with, though? Some LED strips behind the grille might be better for this. Do I want to spend all this effort for deer-avoidance?
As you can see, I’m full of questions. That’s why I’m telling all of you! Because I want to hear your thoughts on the look, the utility, the benefit of deer-frightening, all that. So have at it.