Fleet News

Motorists left dazzled by modern vehicle headlights

Modern car headlights are dazzling motorists, according to a new survey from the RAC.

Two-thirds of respondents claimed they were left blinded by oncoming cars using newer headlight technology such as LED or Xenon.

The RAC Opinion Panel surveyed 2,061 motorists and found that six in 10 (58%) motorists think modern vehicle headlights are so bright they risk causing other motorists to have accidents.

Fifteen per cent of motorists claimed they have suffered a near-miss as a result of being dazzled by modern headlights that they believe are too bright.

Of those who claimed to regularly get dazzled by oncoming dipped headlights, the majority felt it takes up to five seconds before they can see clearly again.

Only one in 10 drivers (12%) think the brightness of headlights on most newer cars is about right. Two-thirds (66%) believe some are too bright and a fifth (22%) claim most are too bright.

Dazzling can also be caused when car owners retrofit illegal headlamp upgrade kits, have poorly aligned headlamps or incorrectly fitted bulbs.

When asked if there should be better regulation in place to prevent manufacturers fitting vehicles with headlights that are too bright, 80% of motorists questioned by the RAC felt this was necessary. Twelve per cent were undecided, and only 8% disagreed.

All cars sold for road use in the UK have to be fitted with headlamps that conform to standards set by the EU in line with the United Nations’ World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29). The UN’s Working Party on Lighting and Light-Signalling (GRE), which prepares regulatory proposals on active safety, specifically regarding vehicle lighting and light-signalling, is currently looking at the issue of headlight glare in response to public concerns. The UK is part of this working party.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams 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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  • Nigel Witherick - 26/03/2018 11:00

    I personally find that "Dazzling can also be caused when car owners retrofit illegal headlamp upgrade kits, have poorly aligned headlamps or incorrectly fitted bulbs." is far more important. Too may vehicles have poorly aligned headlights, cause by heavy payloads, poor maintenance, and knocks to the front of the vehicle. These I find are far more dazzling than Xenon and LED lights which are at least (in most cases) pointing the correct direction. Shouldn't it be a regular check that your headlights are working to the correct standards (more often than once every year for the MOT - and yes there are plenty more things which could go in this category!).

  • Rob Chisholm, Applewood Vehicle Finance Limited - 26/03/2018 12:36

    I agree that many newer cars have headlights that are just too bright ... I have to admit that my own car may be a culprit as on a few occasions other oncoming vehicles have flashed me at night thinking I had the main beam on when I hadn't. However, I was given a bit of advice a few years back on an advanced driving course to help alleviate the effects of this, and that is to close the eye on the offside until the oncoming vehicle has passed, meaning that when you open it again the vision in that eye is unimpaired and your vision is better than it might have been. Don't try this if you already have an issue in one eye though!!

  • Wayne Burnett - 26/03/2018 14:30

    Headlights, dipped or not, are without doubt the most commonly encountered hazard for drivers. This applies whatever type they are , although more modern Xeon and LED are the worse. This problem is exacerbated by road topography and the poor quality of road surface that most of us have to drive on, both of which can counteract the intended effect of dipped headlights. And as for drivers who park on the wrong side of the road and leave their headlights on....well don't get me started!

  • Mr.Bean - 28/03/2018 09:44

    I agree with Nigel, retrofit units are now illegal and should fail during any MOT test. These units are in many cases brighter than what they are allowed and they don't have the benefit of having the auto adjustment like xenon or LED system. Xenon and LED’s factory units should be adjusted during when a service is taken place, these aren’t adjusted during the MOT. LED’s are the future and have more benefits than negatives, less pressure applied to your eyes, increased safety for the driver and pedestrians on the road ansd so on. The only really negative is the cost of replacing the Xenon bulb or the LED’s elements. IF you have an accident the cost of replacing each headlight can range from £500 to £1500, while bulbs cost around £150!

  • Pearl - 06/06/2018 15:41

    I had first collision in 35 years due to Vauxhall antara White all day lights. He was turning round mini roundabout and I was going straight forward. It was hot brilliant day and he said was indicating but I did d not see any indicator

  • Drone - 27/05/2019 21:44

    Not only front headlights but rear red brake lights, I don't complain anymore I just full beam continuously any car that dazzles me, whether on the road on coming or behind - they work it out eventually. The only way to counter act dazzling lights is to use full beam to reduce the glare from them - it does work.

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