Most headlights unsafe on unlit roads, AAA finds
Most car headlights donêt perform adequately on roads that lack overhead lighting, which is the case with most rural roads, but also many suburban ones. Halogen headlights, found in more than 80 percent of vehicles on the road today, may fail to safely illuminate unlit roads at speeds as low as 40 MPH. Thatês the conclusion of a new study by the American Automobile Association (AAA).
That means that when traveling on unlit roadways, todayês headlights fail to light the full distance necessary for a driver to detect an object or obstacle in the road, react and come to a complete stop. High beams help for speeds under 48 mph, but a recent AAA survey found that only a third of Americans use high beams regularly.
Though HID and LED headlights illuminate dark roads 25 percent better than halogens, they still may fail to fully light roads at speeds over 45 mph.
Another headlight problem offers a potential service opportunity for dealers: The protective coating used on the plastics of modern lenses can deteriorate and cloud after about five years, reducing light output and increasing light scatter, which results in glare for other drivers. Only 20 percent of Americans have had their headlights restored, according to AAA. Doing so doubles the maximum light intensity and reduces glare.
An annual service on older vehicles will increase nighttime visibility and minimize distracting glare for fellow drivers, said John Nielsen, AAA managing director, Automotive Engineering and Repair.Download Bulletin PDF