Imagine driving down a local street at night. You’re blasting your favorite radio station as you head home from work, and you notice two headlights in the opposing lane, blinding your eyes. Your first thought is the person accidentally turned on their high beams. However, it turns out to be the standard beams.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noticed a similar issue in the headlight technology after receiving “thousands of consumer complaints.” But are headlights getting brighter in newer vehicles?
The truth behind headlights’ intensity
According to Popular Science, headlights are not getting brighter, but there are reasons why they appear brighter during nighttime drives. For example, the color of the headlights changes the intensity of the glare on the road. If the color skews towards a yellow color, it seems less intense than a white-colored light.
There is also a matter of manufacturing. Car manufacturers have flexibility on a car’s overall design. There are regulations surrounding headlight brightness, but there aren’t regulations stated the exact structure of a headlight on a vehicle.
Imagine a sports car with headlights curving upwards, creating a wrong angle for the beams. The misalignment of the angles will distort how the beams will project onto the road. While most manufacturers avoid distorting the headlights, there are a few models that continue to drive on the streets.
Also, drivers who leave a vehicle out in the sun may indirectly affect the brightness of their headlights. The sun emits ultraviolet light that causes plastic headlight covers to haze over time. The haze makes the project of light less precise, causing glare on the road.
Several other factors influence a headlight’s intensity, but an increase in brightness is not the main culprit. The NHTSA proposed a new rule to incorporate adaptive driving beams, or ADP, into new models. The ADP uses sensors at the front of a vehicle to detect where other cars are and dim the LEDs in the headlights to avoid glare.
The technology could prevent thousands of car accidents each year and potentially save lives. Until ADP technology is available, drivers will need to use their headlights wisely and pay attention to other drivers at night.