Headlights Fall Short on Safety, New AAA Tests Find | Edmunds

Headlights Fall Short on Safety, New AAA Tests Find

ORLANDO, Florida — Conventional halogen headlights found on most U.S. cars and trucks fall short on safety, according to new testing released on Wednesday by AAA.

The organization is pushing for U.S. safety regulators to update federal rules to keep up with changing headlight technology.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been slow to approve the latest headlight technology for use here.

For example, Audi's "Matrix" LED headlights, which are designed to take the high-beam function to a more precise level, have not been approved for use in the U.S. at this point. The headlights are offered on the European 2015 Audi A8 sedan and 2016 Audi TT coupe.

The Matrix headlights work in tandem with a camera and block out light that might trouble drivers of oncoming or preceding vehicles, but continue to provide maximum light in other areas.

Halogen headlights "found in over 80 percent of vehicles on the road today, may fail to safely illuminate unlit roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph," AAA said in its report.

Surprisingly, the report also criticized advanced HID and LED headlights.

While these types of headlights "illuminated dark roadways 25 percent further than their halogen counterparts, they still may fail to fully illuminate roadways at speeds greater than 45 mph," the AAA report said.

"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 of 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 regulators keep up with changing technology."

AAA's research has found that car shoppers need to be educated about the latest headlight technology.

An earlier report noted that just 31 percent of consumers are aware of adaptive headlight technology. Adaptive headlights adjust their direction and intensity in response to the driver's steering to provide additional light on curves or to highlight potential hazards.

They are available on a wide range of vehicles, including the Porsche 911, Kia Cadenza and Lexus LX 570.

Edmunds says: This report shines a light on the need for improvements in headlights and headlight regulations.

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