BLINDED BY THE HEADLIGHTS

BLINDED BY THE HEADLIGHTS

Posted by Matt Bell on 1st July 2019

Being dazzled by ridiculously bright headlights is a situation that many classic car drivers will relate to, especially when at the wheel of smaller, low-slung vehicles. However, we aren’t alone – according to research conducted by the RAC, an overwhelming majority of drivers believe that new car headlights are becoming far brighter than they need to be. What’s more, half of regular drivers say it’s getting worse.

A remarkable 91 per cent of those surveyed believe car headlights are becoming too bright, with 60 per cent admitting they’re regularly dazzled, even by dipped headlights. Just over half (54 per cent) said they’re more frequently affected by headlight glare now than they were 12 months ago, while a far higher number (84 per cent) want the government to “ensure the regulations are updated to remove the possibility of glare being a result of modern technology.” In addition, 45 per cent complained they get dazzled by headlights in their rear-view mirror and a huge 70 per cent believe some lights are so bright they represent an accident risk.

So what’s to blame? Drivers were less clear on the causes. Just over half of drivers felt high-riding cars like SUVs (51 per cent) and modern xenon and LED lighting technology (55 per cent) were the biggest contributors, but roughly a quarter (26 per cent) felt the glare they were experiencing was caused by misaligned headlights.

The research also found that drivers might be at fault by having badly aligned lights. Almost half of drivers (47 per cent) either never adjust their car headlights up or down when carrying different loads, or don’t do it regularly enough. Meanwhile, a quarter of drivers (26 per cent) have suspected problems with a misaligned headlight, with 9 per cent of this group either trying to sort the problem out themselves or ignoring it altogether.

RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “The issue of glare is a complex one and it’s not as straightforward as saying one type of lightbulb causes more of a dazzling effect than another – there are a range of reasons why a driver might be dazzled, from a slight misalignment of a headlight, the difference in ride height of different vehicles and even individual people’s vision. That explains why not every car headlight appears to be dazzling, with eight-in-10 drivers saying only some cause glare.

“Nonetheless, all headlights have to meet specific international standards, which motorists might be surprised to discover haven’t been updated since the 1960s and so do not take specific account of newer technologies like xenon and LED.”