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Insurance Groups Blasts Headlights, Maybe Now We’ll Get the Good Stuff

by Chad Kirchner

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an organization that independently crash tests vehicles for insurance companies. Their tests are typically more challenging than the government’s own crash testing, and their procedures are not influenced by the government. They also wield some significant influence over the automotive industry. Today, they said that most headlights suck. Hopefully that means the government will accept new lighting standards soon.

IIHS tested some 31 sedans and rated the output of the headlights The ones that scored the best ratings tending to be the LED headlights that have an auto-highbeams feature. Regular halogen lights, especially those within projectors, didn’t perform as well. If you’ve ever driven several different cars at night, you’ll notice a stark contrast between lights.

But it doesn’t have to be that way in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, regulate the designs of headlights and haven’t allowed for some of the advanced features that Europeans have had for years. For example, BMW offers adaptive headlights in Europe that are LED based and allowed the high beams to remain on even when a car is coming at you. Here’s a video demonstrating just how it works.

The IIHS notes that a lot of the LED and upgraded headlight options are part of expensive option packages, and not standard. While the government is pushing for mandatory backup cameras and other safety measures, it seems that mandating headlights that aren’t terrible isn’t that important.

Hopefully, that changes sooner than later.

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