Masters dealing with Vehicle Headlights

I have recently stepped into the role of Operations Manager for small Auto Ferry service. During the evening shifts, vehicles waiting to board often sit with their headlights still on and they’re just at the right hight that it usually hits the Ferry Operator right in the eyes. Signs may help a little, but there are already multiple signs in front of the waiting vehicles and my person creed is “You can lead a tourist to water, but you can’t make them read a sign.” A good percentage of our vehicles are tourists visiting the area for the first time, so educating the passengers may not be too helpful. I have looked at “night time glasses,” that have mixed reviews. My concern that if they reduce headlight glare, what are light are they reducing that they NEED to see. Is there anyone here who may have a similar situation that could offer any suggestions? Much appreciated

1 Like

What about a big sign saying “Turn off Headlights or you will be bumped from the next two sailings”?


What about liberal applications of your own spotlight directly at their windshield and equally obnoxious laying on the ship’s whistle until they turn them off?


There’s no shore crew?

After 25 years as Capt and Ops Mgr at a ferry, I can tell you there is no practical solution, that we ever found. I never tried those glasses, just for the reason you mentioned. I was afraid to loose seeing other things I needed to see.

I also hated pickups at the front of the boat. They would keep opening their doors while crossing, triggering the bed ligt to come on, shining into your eyes. So many times I wanted a 50 cal mounted on the bridge wing, just for those lights.

Spotlight and whistle are meaningless to tourists. They think you’re giving them a show.
More signs are useless. As you’ve noticed, they ignore the ones there already.

1 Like

Sometimes when a car behind me had his large head lights switched on I used to manipulate the rear view mirror to throw back their head lights, blinding them. They then dimmed their lights in an instant.

You could use this method in a more sophisticated way by using the retroreflective principle. Cats and bicycles use it to reflect light back to the source so why shouldn’t you use it on the ferry?



Retroreflection is used on road surfaces, road signs, bicycles, vehicles, and clothing. When the headlights of a car illuminate a retroreflective surface, the reflected light is directed towards the car and its driver rather than in all directions as with diffuse reflection. Retroreflective road paint is very popular in Canada and parts of the United States, as it is not affected by the passage of snowplows and does not affect the interior of the roadway.

A retroreflective sign on the ferry with lettering like: ‘Lights off!!’ could do the trick. You can buy for instance from Amazon retroreflective foil. A corner retroreflector is more aggressive as it returns a blinding light. They have put one on the moon to reflect laser light. The choice is yours.

1 Like

Can’t you make a light weight barrier that rolls in front of the same gates that holds the cars back. Approach a billboard company maybe they will build you something and sell advertising on it.

Turn the car park round so cars are not pointing at the approaching ferries?


And then make them drive on in reverse?

1 Like

No, its a very small operation. We only carry three cars and run very late

Wow it is small.
The search light and signs. presumably a small unmanned terminal, the line up pointing directly out at the approaching ferry.
How about a radio hooked up to a PA speaker in the terminal. Flash search light and make PA in terminal.

Other item we have found useful. Is one of those electronic signs with changing messages. Some people read it.