A new study suggests your car’s headlights may be putting you at risk on the road. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an organization that evaluates automotive safety, released a study this week in which they rated the strength of automobile headlights. Of the 31 car models examined, only one model achieved a rating of “good.”
The Toyota Prius v. made the grade, as its LED headlights illuminated the road approximately 390 feet ahead, a distance that gives vehicles moving as fast as 70 mph adequate time to stop. The remaining car models tested in the study received an “acceptable,” “marginal,” or “poor” rating. Interestingly, numerous luxury midsize cars performed as poorly or worse than the more affordable models. In fact, the BMW 3 series halogen lights had the lowest rating overall. Illuminating only 128 feet ahead, a driver with these headlights would have to be going under 35 mph to be able to stop safely in the event of an emergency.
Poor illumination wasn’t the only visibility issue; excessive glare and poor low-beam visibility also contributed to low ratings. And while some vehicles shared the same light bulbs as others, each car model had varying degrees of visibility depending on the reflector or lens used and its position on the car. Headlight regulation has been largely overlooked since the 1960s, leaving current regulations dated. According to David Zuby, IIHS Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer, “The ability to see the road ahead, along with any pedestrians, bicyclists or obstacles, is an obvious essential for drivers. However, government standards for headlights, based on laboratory tests, allow huge variation in the amount of illumination that headlights provide in actual on-road driving.”
With approximately 50% of traffic fatalities occurring in darkened conditions between dusk and dawn, the IIHS believes revised headlight regulations could greatly reduce this percentage. It hopes this information will not only make auto manufacturers and the general population aware of the importance of headlights, but also encourages the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to improve headlight standards.
To learn more about the importance of headlight visibility or if you have been injured in an auto accident, please contact us or call us at 800-676-5295. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.