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In several movies, I keep noticing a trope: whenever someone is in a car at night, with a running engine, and headlights are on, they will keep the lights on, not only after the stop the engine, but also when they leave the vehicle.

I know modern cars are designed to preserve battery life, by automatically switching off lights after a while, but these movies I am talking about are pre-modern cars era. 2000s and before.

From where I come from, almost no one would ever leave the car off while headlights are still on. So I wonder if it is a common practice in USA? or is it just a movie thing?

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It's just a movie thing. No one wants to come out to a dead battery. It's really a hassle. I assume it's done in the movies so there is some source of light (acceptable to the audience) and possibility dramatic effect.

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