New car headlights present ‘unwanted safety risk’ to drivers

New car headlights present ‘unwanted safety risk’ to drivers
The brightness of headlights fitted on new cars could increase the risk of motorists having an accident, a new RAC report claims.

Around 15% of drivers admitted they’ve been involved in a ‘near miss’ after being dazzled by oncoming traffic, or when checking their rear-view mirrors.

The RAC says 65% of drivers of all ages are regularly dazzled by modern headlights – even when they are dipped.

Current headlights fitted in UK vehicles range from traditional halogen headlamps, to newer xenon, or high intensity discharge lights, and LED headlights.

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While they have improved the vision of the driver using them, the RAC Opinion Panel survey of 2,061 motorists suggests this could be at the expense of other road users.

Worryingly, 58% of motorists think the brightness of modern vehicle headlights is putting drivers at risk – with the majority of drivers who are regularly dazzled reporting it can take as long as five seconds before they see clearly again.

This means a car travelling at 60mph would have travelled over the length of a UK football pitch (120m) before the driver has fully recovered their sight after being dazzled.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “The intensity and brightness of some new car headlights is clearly causing difficulty for other road users.

“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.

“Drivers also find it very distracting when they have to contend with being dazzled by bright lights in their rear-view mirrors.”

Only 12% of drivers think that the brightness of new car headlights is just right; 66% think some models are too bright and 22% feel most of them are too bright.

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Around 66% of motorists say they often struggle to tell whether the beam is on full or dipped.

Others said they’ve been forced to change the way they drive with 21% now relying on their wing mirrors more to avoid being dazzled.

Mr Williams added: “While regulations specify that all types of dipped headlights must fall between a maximum and minimum luminosity the night-time driving experience of motorists of all ages is very different with many saying dipped beams of some modern vehicles are too bright.”

The UK government, through its work at the United Nations, has secured support for a review into headlight requirements.

Preliminary proposals were put forward in 2017, with more progress expected for this year.

Copyright Press Association 2018. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.