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AAA urges U.S. to bring headlight standards out of the dark ages

Wilmington auto accident attorneyPermitting headlight technology already in use in Canada and Europe could make night driving safer in America, according to a new AAA study.

A story on the AAA NewsRoom website said the technology known as adaptive driving beam (ADB) headlights is the first real solution to providing more light for drivers at night.

AAA supports changes in the law to allow such headlights to be used by U.S. drivers.

The ADB headlights—also called smart headlights—shine as brightly as traditional lights with the high beams on. They also feature new technology that keeps any extra glare from shining into the eyes of drivers in oncoming cars, according to Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports also supports the technology and said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should let automakers install them on U.S. vehicles.

The change of headlight conditions with the introduction of the ADB technology won’t be cheap. Consumer Reports said that on the vehicles that AAA tested, the ADB headlights cost between $3,400-$6,600 more than traditional headlights.

Less lighting means less time to react

AAA found that European vehicles equipped with the ADB technology increase roadway lighting by as much as 86 percent when compared to U.S. low beam headlights.

Canadian regulations for headlights are similar to those the U.S. has established. Canada in March 2018 amended its laws to allow the use of ADB headlights permitted in Europe for several years.

In the U.S., about 25 percent of car travel occurs at night. Nearly 52 percent of driver fatalities and 71 percent of pedestrian deaths occur during dark driving times, said AAA, citing federal statistics.

AAA found 64 percent of American drivers do not regularly use high beams. That means that when driving at a moderate speed like 40 mph with only low beams on, drivers may have less time to react to something or someone in the road.

High beams increase illumination of the roadway for drivers, and with ADB, the high beams are always on. When another vehicle is detected, that area is shaded to prevent glare that would otherwise interfere with the other driver’s field of vision.

AAA said a shortcoming in U.S. standards that govern headlights lies in how the devices are assessed for compliance. Currently, only the headlamp assembly is evaluated, in static testing in a laboratory. Such an evaluation fails to incorporate on-road dynamics, such as performance of headlights in relation to other vehicles on roadways.

It’s unclear if the U.S. will permit installation of ADB headlights as a standard in vehicles, so until then, here are nighttime driving tips from AAA:

  • When driving on unlit roadways, use high beams whenever possible. There is a difference between seeing the roadway markings, signs and other cars as opposed to being able to perceive a non‐reflective object in your path.
  • Monitor and adjust driving speeds when traveling on unlit roads at night to allow enough time to detect, react and stop the vehicle in order to avoid striking a pedestrian, animal or object in the roadway.
  • Replace headlight lenses if they are anything but clear to ensure the best possible illumination. Lenses made of plastic begin to yellow and show signs of deterioration after about five years. Deteriorated headlights are a safety hazard.

Contact the Law Offices Of Richard Flexner in North Carolina today for help with issues related to vehicle headlights, crashes and other personal injury cases.

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