The problem affects over 700,000 SUVs.
It was only last month that a new ruling was published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that finally approves advanced adaptive headlights for use on cars sold in the United States. These adaptive driving beam (ADB) headlights will actively modify a vehicle's headlight beams to provide more illumination while reducing glare for oncoming vehicles. For most of us, headlight glare is more of an annoyance than anything else, but it's easy to see how being blinded by approaching headlights can be extremely dangerous if it happens at the wrong moment. General Motors has now come under fire for exactly this issue for certain previous-generation GMC Terrain models.
According to Reuters, the NHTSA has denied GM's request to avoid fixing headlight glare issues that affect around 725,000 SUVs in the US. The NHTSA had the option of declaring the headlight issue inconsequential - if this had happened, GM wouldn't have needed to notify owners about the problem so their vehicles could be fixed. GM's argument is that the issue had no impact on vehicle safety.
In 2019, the automaker petitioned the NHTSA to declare the problem inconsequential, but clearly, this has not worked. The GMC Terrain models that are affected include 2010 to 2017 model year vehicles, which is why the total number of units is so high. According to the NHTSA, "glare to other motorists driving in proximity" could be caused in conditions where snow or fog are prevalent.
According to GM, only one customer inquired about the problem and, to its knowledge, no crashes or injuries have resulted from the headlights. However, GM did acknowledge that it will review the safety agency's decision and explore the next steps.
In January, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced a new rating program that will be stricter on driver-assistance technologies. Days ago, the NHTSA announced a similar crackdown on these features. Clearly, these safety agencies are upping their game in parallel with rising vehicle safety standards, and manufacturers like GM won't be let off the hook, even if it's for a safety issue that the automaker deems insignificant. It remains to be seen when GM will reach out to Terrain owners, but if you own one of these SUVs, it's something to keep your eye on.