Survey shines a light on dazzling headlights

11.59 | 26 March 2018 | | 13 comments

15% of motorists claim to have suffered a near-miss as a result of being dazzled by ‘modern headlights that are too bright’, according to the RAC.

A RAC survey of more than 2,000 motorists found that 58% believe modern vehicle headlights are causing collisions; while 80% believe there should be better regulation in place to prevent manufacturers fitting headlights that are too bright.

65% of respondents admitted to regularly being dazzled by oncoming headlights – even though they are dipped – with 10% of those saying it takes as long as 10 seconds for their vision to return to normal.

According to the RAC, a driver recovering from being dazzled for five seconds while driving at 60mph, would cover a distance of 134m – more than the length of a football pitch.

Among the 88% who think at least some modern car headlights are too bright, 49% claim to dazzled by headlights in their rear view mirror.

66% of respondents say they now struggle to tell if oncoming lights are on full or dipped beam, while 68% admit to having difficulty telling whether some approaching vehicles have their indicators on due to the brightness of the headlights.

Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, 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.

“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.”


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Order by Latest first | Oldest first | Highest rated | Lowest rated

    I like many folks find these lights far to blinding. As such they are hazardous. One can be mistaken for thinking the opposite driver has mistakenly left his full beams on. There are times when I simply cannot see anything in front of me but these lights. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds for a car to veer far enough away from it’s course for an incident to occur. They are downright dangerous.

    Gary Crosby, Ashby De La Zouch
    Agree (10) | Disagree (0)

    I agree that the LED daytime running lights are often much brighter than they need to be. DRLs are useful but not if they dazzle. At night, again I am one of those often dazzled in my mirrors – my interior mirror is supposed to automatically dim, but it’s nowhere near enough for me.

    David – my understanding is that the headlight level adjuster should only affect the dipped beam lights. I am surprised if yours adjusts the full beam level too. Maybe you should ask your dealer or servicing garage to investigate and see if there is a problem with your lights?

    Guy Bradley, Hertford
    Agree (3) | Disagree (2)

    ‘lazy drivers’ David?… one could equally argue that putting the handbrake, on as opposed to keeping one’s foot on the brake is ‘lazy’ – the latter is far more practical especially in slow moving traffic queues.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (9)

    It is not just headlights that are bright: I find it dazzling to sit behind many lazy drivers who, instead of applying the handbrake, are content to sit with their foot on the brakes and show brake lights.

    Modern vehicle lighting regulations have not kept pace with LED technology and still stipulate the wattage of bulbs. They should be brought up to date and state a maximum in lumens for particular types of lamp.

    I also find on modern vehicles that if I set the dipped beam lights to properly illuminate the road, then the main beams are suitable only for star-gazing. If I set main beam parallel to the road, then dipped beam lights the road for only a few metres in front of me. Why can’t we have separate adjusters for dipped and main beams?

    David, Suffolk
    Agree (9) | Disagree (0)

    My partner has commented on how bright he finds some lights. They could be a trigger for some migraine suffers.

    Chris Tame, London
    Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

    Hope the motorists would use this helpful new technology sensibly and make it safer all rather than just themselves. The modern too bright lights are a great danger to other motorists. They are blinding to the oncoming motorists not to say the least. They should be used to help the driver in poorly lit areas, NOT as a weapon to tell other motorists to state “I am coming get out of my way”. I now avoid driving at night time due to this nuisance. How many more like me have given up the road at night?

    Manji Kara, Haoorw, Middlesex
    Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

    Wholeheartedly agree. But it’s not just the headlights. The trend to marker lights which are on even in daylight is very disconcerting. They are totally unnecessary. If you need a dazzling array of LED lights to se a car coming you shouldn’t be on the road.

    These over bright lights (often in fancy snake like arrays designed to be trendy) are a perpetual distraction either when approaching or in the rear view mirror. They should be banned.

    George Epsom
    Agree (9) | Disagree (5)

    Of more concern to me is the blinding effect resulting from the misuse of headlamp flashing – which is always main beam. Some motorists seem to take delight in flashing at the slightest thing and don’t think that what they’re doing is blinding and can be misconstrued by others. In the dark, it is like a flash bulb going off and can take a few seconds to get used to. If you must flash, only use your dipped beam (if on sidelights only, or, if already on dipped beam, flick them off momentarily) and remember, the HC says only flash to warn others of your presence.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (14) | Disagree (1)

    Many cars before automatic illumination controls came in have the facility to raise or lower the beam by a push button or a turn button. In many instances they either don’t know that they have one and its constantly in the raised position or they have raised it for driving on unlit country roads and have not lowered it again when they enter into an urban area. This can result in having a high main beam or more often having a raised dipped beam that will shine and display further and is obviously higher and that can cause dazzling as reported. Add to that a bulb that is some 30% brighter then one has an ongoing problem. Not for the driver but for all other road users.

    Bob Craven
    Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

    > 68% admit to having difficulty telling whether some approaching vehicles have their indicators on due to the brightness of the headlights.

    No, it’s not the brightness, it’s the position and/or size of the indicator.

    David Weston, Corby
    Agree (6) | Disagree (2)

    Badly positioned and aimed household security floodlights are also dazzling drivers. No one seems to bother about those either.

    Guzzi, Newport
    Agree (9) | Disagree (6)

    The article flags up a real danger for today’s driver/rider. A bit ironic really for those of us who learned to ride in the days of feeble 6 volt powered electrics.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

    Many an accident has been caused by the flash of an approaching cars headlight where the recipient has as a result of being flashed either entered a main road or turned right in front of the flashing car. Only to find that there was no intention of flashing in such a way but that the oncoming vehicle encountered a pot hole and the resulting bump that it caused may have appeared to any vehicle in front as a come on.

    Bob Craven
    Agree (10) | Disagree (4)

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