Safety Technology

Despite Looking Pretty, LED Headlights Aren't Strong Enough

Time we start missing good old fashioned halogen lights?

Take a close look at most any new car, especially luxury ones, and you’ll notice the LED headlights are damn near works of art. Screwing in a couple of halogen light bulbs doesn’t cut it anymore. But these new-age lights aren’t necessarily any safer despite shining brighter and farther than ever. Automotive News has an interesting report claiming the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released four studies that all come to the same conclusion: most headlights on new vehicles tested are not very good.

This is not limited to foreign or domestic brands, or even luxury or non-luxury vehicles. Furthermore, the IIHS say headlights oftentimes roll off the factory floor poorly aimed, which can cause glare and makes the switch to LEDs pretty much pointless. Out of the 100 vehicles the IIHS tested for headlight strength, only four received a “good” score. Forty vehicles got slapped with a “poor” rating. Testing is conducted by engineers who measure how far light is projected from low beams and high beams as a car drives straight and around curves, according to Automotive News. Just as important, these engineers also measure whether the lights create too much glare for incoming vehicles.

As a sign of just how important headlight strength is for any vehicle’s IIHS safety ranking, a mere 15 models qualified for the institute’s 2018 Top Safety Pick Plus award, compared to last year’s figure of 38 vehicles. The decrease was mainly due to a new requirement for headlights to earn a “good” rating in order to receive the award. Considering nearly half of fatal car crashes happen at night in the US, the fact too much attention is being given to headlight design rather than effectiveness should be worrying to us all.

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