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How Dull Headlights Affect Safe Driving

headlights

When you’re driving down the road and see another car coming from the opposite directions, sometimes you wish you could wear your sunglasses at night to stop the blinding light. However, those lights can save your life. With half of all fatal accidents occurring after dark, headlight safety is an important factor in accident avoidance. One of the issues leading to these car accidents is the quality of the headlights. New research from AAA reveals that clouded or yellowed headlights generate only 20% of the amount of light that new headlights do. This leads to dangerous nighttime driving conditions.

The decrease caused by sunlight damage leads to discoloration. The fogginess then diminishes the headlight’s ability to provide adequate lights. When you drive down the the dark roadways, you want the best light possible. In fact, the AAA urges drivers to check their headlights for signs of deterioration. Finally, if you check them, invest in new headlights or a service to boost the safety of driving after dark.

How to Check Your Own Headlights

Advance AutoParts recommends these steps to check your headlights and their alignment.

  • Start by cracking open your owner’s manual and looking up how to align headlights.
  • Check YouTube for tips on your specific vehicle.
  • Fixing headlight alignment varies by the vehicle. Look for the adjustment knobs on the back of the headlights. These knobs or screws will allow for fine adjustment on both the vertical and horizontal axes. If you have a newer car, only your dealership or mechanic may have access to these knobs.

Next, if you have an older vehicle with cloudy headlights, you can sometimes defog the plastic headlight housing. The products will strip off the outer layer of dirty and then polish the outside. Don’t be afraid to use some elbow grease!

If you still haven’t found the lighting you are looking for, it’s time to upgrade with better bulbs.

What Do Professionals Look for In Headlights?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found only one only one car earned its top Good rating: the Toyota Prius V with LED lamps. After testing 31 vehicles tested, 19 vehicles received Poor or Marginal scores. . The worst performer in the IIHS tests was the BMW 3 Series, equipped with halogen headlamps. But what are they looking for?

  • how far ahead the headlights illuminate,
  • How they work on dark nights.
  • Both ratings evaluate both low and high beams,
  • They give the greatest emphasis to low-beam seeing distances, reflecting how lights are most often used.

The experts do see some great technologies improving headlights though. High-beam assist increases high-beam use by automatically switching between high beams and low beams. It depends on if other vehicles are present. Additionally, curve-adaptive headlights pivot in the direction of travel to improve visibility on curvy roads.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident at night, please contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd.

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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