No one knows when a light bulb will blow

Dear Editor,

There are certain things in life that we cannot predict or correctly give a timeline to. One of these things is a light bulb.  No one can say for sure for how many hours a bulb will provide light.  You install a new bulb and sometimes it does not work for more than twenty-four hours.  Before a certificate of fitness for a vehicle is issued, the certifying officer examines the vehicle thoroughly to make sure all the lights are in working order; this of course is in addition to other checks.  Two weeks later, the vehicle is pulled over by traffic ranks who upon inspection discover that even though the certificate of fitness on the vehicle is in force, the brake lights are not working.  A traffic ticket is then issued to you and you have to pay $5,000 or appear in court.

I agree that the driver is the person who is responsible for the vehicle at the time it is stopped and inspected by the ranks, and as such must ensure that all the lights on the vehicle are in working condition.  Few drivers (if any) would operate a vehicle knowing fully well that the lights are defective.

There is absolutely nothing a driver can do to prevent a bulb from blowing suddenly.  To avoid being penalized, the driver will have to stop periodically and check the bulbs, and if any of them is found to be defective he will have to change them immediately.

To do this it means that the driver will have to be in possession of spare bulbs and tools, and if he has no auto-electrical knowledge he will also have to have an auto-electrician with him.

Bulbs do not indicate when they will blow.  I remember some time back when the police were conducting a campaign against persons riding bicycles without lights, I was riding along Sheriff Street after turning out of Pike Street when I observed the campaign in operation.  I checked the light on the bicycle and it was lighting.

I rode past two police officers without any problem but as I was about to pass the third officer he pulled me over because the light was off.

I explained to him that I passed two other officers with the lights on.  He seemed to believe what I told him but then he said “raise up and spin.”  I lifted the front of the bicycle and the officer spun the wheel several times but the light did not work.  The bicycle was detained.  That is how unpredictable a light bulb can be.

I think instead of penalizing a driver for driving a vehicle with the brake lights (especially) not working is somewhat harsh. That driver can be warned and given a certain amount of time to fix the light.  If he fails to fix the light in the prescribed time he should surely be penalized.  Even the documents for that have expiry dates printed on them, but not the bulbs.

In closing I think the Traffic Department should be more flexible and realistic in dealing with this issue because no one knows the exact day and time when a bulb will blow.

Yours faithfully,
Colin Gill