The NHTSA announced that its opening discussions to look into the effects that headlight and other front-mounted light regulatory measures would have on the manufacturing process, and more importantly, safety.
According to The Car Connection, it’s a step towards a new generation of headlight technology as we get closer to having the headlight systems of tomorrow in the automobiles today. According to Docket No. 01-8885; Notice 01 discussions about what is regulated and what is allowed in terms of the light projected from your vehicle at night will commence to see what changes need to be made.
It comes from a long list of complaints that have been received by motorists on dark roads during nighttime hours, and the problem has been brewing for some time – it just took this long to bubble up into the spotlight of action. The ever-evolving automobile is bringing advancements in communications and electronics at a lightning-fast pace; lawmakers are beginning to struggle to stay on top of a sound regulating of a quickly-advancing industry as it’s shaped by the autonomously feasible landscape we move fourth into.
Cars are more advanced, faster, and more powerful than ever before. The technological capability of the modern day automobile is astonishing, and it is a component of that capability that is creating a reason to put a spotlight of scrutiny on the ultra-bright lighting systems. Through misuse, improper installation and over-voltage, lights are becoming more than just a nuisance as motorists are struggling to see through the "glare," which happened to be a reoccurring keyword in the docket report.
In an attempt to mitigate the problem while it’s fairly manageable, meetings will be held to review current regulations regarding a variety of topics surrounding the approved lighting systems a car legally may or may not have. Of all the developments surrounding forward lighting, perhaps a more interesting issue being brought up is the next generation of what’s known as adaptive lighting.
Adaptive lighting is nothing new; in fact, it has been around in early examples that failed to go mainstream as far back as the Upton Touring car circa the early 1900s. It’s bullet-shaped headlight housings would rotate in the direction the steering wheel was turned.
The adaptive systems in development are much more complex today; in addition to horizontal sweep and grade-compensation features, some even run full intensity at all times, dimming portions of them when nearby traffic is sensed in front of the vehicle. To what ultimate extent we’ll see changes made and how soon we can expect them is still unclear, but progress is starting to pick up momentum. It shouldn’t be long before we see this hi-tech new lighting methodology as it starts to appear in production models of the near future.
An interesting counter-argument is positioned by NPR, who reports IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) findings that an overwhelming majority of headlight configurations are inadequate, earning a rating no better than “poor” rating. Testing was conducted on 31 different 2014-model cars across 82 different headlight configurations – only one was found to have “good” headlights.