A vehicle’s headlights are meant to illuminate the road at night, allowing the driver to see approaching vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and other objects in the road. They also alert others on the road that another vehicle is approaching. If the headlights are not bright enough, it can increase the risk of serious car accidents. According to research conducted by AAA, as headlights age, they slowly deteriorate and become less effective at lighting up the road. Unfortunately, too many drivers are unaware of this safety risk, and they continue driving with ineffective headlights, putting other motorists and pedestrians at risk for serious collisions.
AAA tested a 2007 Nissan Altima and a 2007 Chevrolet Malibu, which were both 11 years old, to determine whether the headlights were still effective. They found that the headlights had deteriorated over time and only 22 percent of the light reached the roadway. The deterioration is caused by sun damage to the plastic coating of the headlight. This can cause a yellowish tint on the headlight, which can become opaque over time. As a result, only a fraction of the light shines through. AAA urges drivers to replace older headlights and have them checked regularly.
Improvements Needed in Headlight Safety
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, only about half of all 2018 vehicles met the safety standards for effectively illuminating the roadway and preventing glare for approaching drivers. That means that slightly less than half of all 2018-model vehicles did not meet the adequacy standards for headlight safety. Safety officials are demanding that greater attention be paid to headlight safety. Cities such as Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and New York have developed initiatives to reduce traffic fatalities, including those that involve pedestrians, after approximately 6,000 pedestrians were fatally injured in car accidents last year alone.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated several fatal pedestrian accidents. Based on what they found, the NTSB called for improved federal automotive standards for vehicle headlights. In addition to testing the headlights’ power in a laboratory setting, the headlight systems should be road-tested to ensure that they do an effective job of lighting up the roadway. These recommendations are part of a comprehensive study conducted by the NTSB. The study looked at 15 crashes, which represented the average number of pedestrian fatalities that occurred each day in the United States in May 2016, when the review began.