To the editors:

I think it’s great that you can turn the headlights on when the ignition is off [Straight Dope, March 2]. I can think of countless times I used the headlights and WANTED the ignition off. As a matter of fact, I had a VW BUG that automatically shut off the lights when you turned off the ignition and it drove me crazy!

It’s obvious that you are used to living in an area where there are lights on every corner. Didn’t you have to work at night where there are no outside lights? How about trying to fix a car at night when nobody has a flashlight (or the batteries are dead)? It is usually more than a five minute job, and you certainly wouldn’t want to have your car running the whole time.

Didn’t you have any fun growing up? We used to park our cars in a field and dance in front of the headlights. On foggy nights we would plan to meet friends at an old graveyard, get there early, TURN OFF THE IGNITION, and wait. When our unsuspecting friends would arrive, WHAM, on went the headlights! It scared them to death! (16-year-olds in small towns have to find something to do!)

What about arriving at a campsite after dark and trying to set up camp? How much gas would you waste if you kept your car running while you were trying to figure out that “easy three step tent”? You couldn’t leave the campsite because you’d be out of gas!

I used to ride my horse at night and car headlights were perfect for lighting up my riding arena. My horse would not have put up with a running car.

There are lots of reasons to have your headlights on when the car is off. You just need to think about it.

One who grew up where

there were few streetlights

Los Angeles

Cecil Adams replies:

Now I know why the car companies don’t change the headlight switch. They’re afraid of getting letters like this from guys like you.