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Deer in the Headlights – Have Car Blinding Beams Gone Too Far?


When did you last drive at night? Did you leave a sporting event or office party? Were you just enjoying a nice summer night drive? Then you saw two beaming lights heading towards you in the opposite lane. As the headlights shine, sometimes the brightness of the beams send shivers through your entire body. It feels like a burn the back of your retinas. And more troublesome, this dazzling can increase the risk of a car accident.

Dazzled By Headlights

According to RAC, a group in the UK that looks at the interest of motorist, this dazzling has become common. In a recent survey, 65% stated that while driving, they are “regularly dazzled” by blinding headlights that tend to be prevalent in newer models. Additionally, the study found that the majority felt it takes up to five seconds before they can see clearly again. However, one in 10 drivers need 10 seconds to fully recover from being so-called blinded by headlights.

The brightness of headlights while driving was not always an area of concern. The survey found that 88% of those surveyed stated that they believe modern headlights are too bright. In recent years, headlight manufacturers have been using

  • LED,
  • halogen,
  • high-intensity discharge, and
  • xenon.

Some of these materials claim to lessen the blinding effect felt by oncoming drivers. However, RAC’s study and those surveyed state that these efforts are not working, and RAC states that advancements in headlight technology are the direct cause of the problem.

“The intensity and brightness of some new car headlights is clearly causing difficulty for other road users,” said Pete Williams, a spokesman for RAC. “Headlight technology has advanced considerably in recent years, but while that may be better for the drivers of those particular vehicles, it is presenting an unwanted, new road safety risk for anyone driving towards them or even trying to pull out at a junction.”


Should We Ban Blinding Headlights?

On January 2, 2018, Huffington Post contributor Mirah Riben published the article simply titled “Ban Blinding Headlights.” In the article, Riben detailed her frustration with too-bright headlights and how she contacted the National Highway Safety Administration, also known as the NHSA, about her concerns. The NHSA acknowledged  the public’s concern.

In response to public concern of excessive glare from HID headlamps, NHTSA is sponsoring research at several universities. They will assess eye sensitivity to these new technology headlamps and the effect sensitivity has on vision. The goal is to determine what changes to the lighting standard may be needed in order to ensure the appropriate balance between visibility and glare. Some of this recent effort may be viewed at by searching for “glare.”

However, no one person or entity has stated their plan for fixing this issue. But companies, administrative entities, and citizens of the public can all agree: being blinded by the light is not always a good thing.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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