A new AAA study found that today’s headlights fail to safely light the roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph.
AAA testing determined that the headlights in 80 percent of cars did not light the full distance necessary for a driver to see an object in the road and come to a full stop.
“AAA’s test results reveal that headlights found in U.S. vehicles fall short on safety,” said Megan McKernan, Manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center where the study was performed.
The study compared typical US headlights to halogen, high intensity discharge (HID) and light emitting diode (LED) headlights. It found that high-beam settings on halogen headlights improved sight distances by 28 percent at the testing facility, which translates to safe lighting at speeds up to 48 mph in real-world conditions. But only a third of Americans admit to using their high beams regularly.
Testing found that HID and LED headlights lit up the roadways 25 percent further than their halogen counter parts, but even they fell short at speeds greater than 45 mph. But on high beam settings, these lights worked well up to 55 mph.
Even the most advanced headlights fall 60 percent short of driving sight in daylight.
“While it’s encouraging to see the safety benefit that newer headlight technology offers to drivers, there’s still room for improvement,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Managing Director, Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Unlike the more advanced headlight technology available in European vehicles, current government regulations limit the light output for vehicles sold in the United States. AAA looks forward to working with U.S. policy makers to ensure federal regulations keep up with changing technology.”