Nighttime poses special risks for traffic safety, including pedestrian safety. Among the things that have very big impacts on drivers’ ability to respond to these risks is visibility level.
Nighttime visibility levels for drivers, in turn, are heavily affected by the quality and condition of the headlights on vehicles. These things impact both the level of illumination the headlights provide and how likely they are to create problematic glare.
There is a class of advanced headlight systems aimed at both increasing illumination and reducing glare for nighttime driving: adaptive driving beams. These systems can detect when other vehicles are around and automatically adjust headlight brightness accordingly.
While there are various countries, including Japan, which allow these advanced headlights, the U.S. currently prohibits them. This is due to federal rules on what the maximum levels are for lower beams.
However, this may soon be changing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed changing U.S. vehicle regulations to allow for adaptive driving beam systems. The agency said that such systems have the potential to provide significant collision avoidance benefits.
Now, as a note, this is a proposal. There are a variety of steps still to go for there to be an actual changing of the regulations, including public comments and a final decision by the agency.
What do you think of these advanced headlight systems? Would you like to see them come into the U.S. market? Do you think they would make a big difference out on the roads? What do think would most help in improving nighttime traffic safety?