I knew it wasn't just me.  They are everywhere!

Geoff Gundy, TSM

Burnt out headlights and tail lights:  I'll bet I see literally 10 of these on a given day.  And they're not even on old cars, in fact, they're almost always on the new-looking ones!  That would chap my a**!  Pay upwards of 30 grand for a set of wheels & have something go out right away?

Seriously:  I've had the same '90s car since... well... the '90s... and bulbs never burn out on it.

So what gives?

Here's an answer from a couple of contributors to one online forum:

The newer headlight bulbs, the ultra bright sodium ones and maybe the others have a significantly shorter lifespan. My original bulbs were over 10 years old and still working but I did think they seemed to be a bit dimmer than I remembered. So I bought some new ones, the xtra vision ones that were one step up from the standard halogens. They were a little brighter which was fine. I researched how all of the brighter bulbs have shorter lifespans. The really bright ones in particular.
Presumably newer cars even if they're not xenon, HID, whatever, are coming with the brighter, whiter bulbs that have shorter life. Also anything that's a DRL is probably burning out periodically since it's on all the time.

If there is a "bright" side of this, it's that there is NO way the police could possibly keep up with all of these burnt out lights.  So, unless for some reason they see you driving with one several times in a short period of time - or, you're doing something noticeably stupid behind the wheel, you probably won't get pulled over.  Heck, he probably has a toasted bulb himself!  (Sounds like a personal problem, I know.)