Government launches research into why drivers are dazzled by headlights

  • Four in 5 motorists say the issue of dazzling is getting worse annually
  • Three quarters of drivers say they’re recurrently blinded by different automobile lights
  • Cheap aftermarket LED bulbs and failure to regulate lights have additionally been blamed 

The Government has dedicated to launching an investigation into why drivers are being dazzled by different motorists’ headlights – and the right way to crackdown on the harmful situation.

It comes after a latest research by the RAC discovered 4 in 5 motorists stated glare from different car’s lights is changing into a rising downside and has been getting worse lately.

The Department for Transport has now responded, saying it has recognised the ‘want for additional proof’ to grasp why dazzling in changing into extra outstanding, saying it ‘intends to fee unbiased analysis shortly’.

The Government has committed to launching its own independent research to understand why more drivers are being dazzled on the road - and, importantly, how to tackle the issue

The Government has dedicated to launching its personal unbiased analysis to grasp why extra drivers are being dazzled on the street – and, importantly, the right way to deal with the difficulty 

The DfT offered an official touch upon a automobile headlights dazzling petition setup by a member of the general public earlier this 12 months.

At the time of publishing, the petition has acquired over 10,850 signatures following campaigning by motoring teams just like the RAC in addition to the College of Optometrists and Member of the House of Lords, Baroness Hayter.

It’s changing into more and more obvious that extra drivers are being troubled by the brightness of different automobiles’ headlights, elevating considerations that it might spark an increase in accidents on the street.

The RAC’s annual headlight dazzling report on the topic – revealed in January – discovered that 85 per cent of drivers have been partially blinded by the glare of vibrant automobile lights and imagine the issue is worsening.

Of 2,000 UK licence holders quizzed by the motoring group, 89 per cent assume at the least some headlights fitted to automobiles are too vibrant, of which three in 10 – the next proportion than ever – assume most are. 

The RAC says there might be numerous causes for why dazzling is changing into an elevated downside, blaming the most recent blue-tint LED bulbs, drivers failing to regulate their headlights and the rise in SUV possession. 

Commenting on the petition, the DfT stated: ‘The Government has taken motion internationally to handle considerations raised about headlamp glare.

‘Recognising the necessity for additional proof, we intend to fee unbiased analysis shortly.’

Blinded by the lights: Three in four drivers say they are often dazzled by the headlights of other vehicles on the road

Blinded by the lights: Three in 4 drivers say they’re usually dazzled by the headlights of different automobiles on the street

The assertion went on: ‘All car headlamps are designed and examined to comply with worldwide requirements to make sure that they’re each vibrant sufficient to light up the street however don’t have an effect on the imaginative and prescient of different street customers. 

‘The requirements outline the beam sample and embody most and minimal mild intensities.’

The DfT added that it’s effectively conscious that extra persons are elevating considerations concerning the depth of headlight glare, however caveated the purpose by stating that police collision statistics ‘do not present any underlying street security situation’.

The Government division continued: ‘Because of that lack of proof, the Department for Transport raised the difficulty on the United Nations worldwide skilled group on car lighting. 

‘Proposals to amend headlamp aiming guidelines had been agreed in April 2023, along with necessities for obligatory computerized headlamp levelling which mechanically corrects the intention of the headlamps based mostly on the loading of the car e.g. when passengers are sat on the again seat or there may be baggage within the boot.

‘The transitional provisions allow enough time for car producers to revamp their merchandise and adapt the manufacturing course of, with the tighter tolerances anticipated to come back into impact in September 2027.

‘Once carried out, these harder necessities will assist alleviate the variety of instances the place street customers are dazzled.

‘In addition, the DfT additionally plans to fee unbiased analysis to higher perceive the basis causes of driver glare and determine any additional acceptable mitigations.’

The RAC has long been campaigning for more to be done to tackle headlight dazzling, which has become an increasing issue in recent years due to the advent of new tech and the popularity of higher-riding vehicles

The RAC has lengthy been campaigning for extra to be performed to deal with headlight dazzling, which has develop into an growing situation lately as a result of introduction of latest tech and the recognition of higher-riding automobiles

RAC street security spokesperson Rod Dennis described the dedication to analyze dazzling as a ‘actual turning level’. 

He stated: ‘The matter has undoubtedly struck a chord with motorists up and down the nation, with many individuals contacting us on to name for one thing to be performed.

‘Brighter headlights, whereas giving drivers a greater view of the street forward, are clearly inflicting different street customers vital issues. 

‘As many as nine-in-10 drivers inform us they imagine at the least some automobile headlights are too vibrant, whereas 14 per cent of drivers aged 65-plus say they’ve stopped driving altogether because of being dazzled.

‘An unbiased research offers a golden alternative for the Government and business to unravel the issue, determine the components concerned and map out a method ahead. We’re conscious of regulatory modifications being made at a global stage that may hopefully make a distinction in a few years to come back, however are involved that these alone will not be sufficient to handle headlight dazzle.’

Mr Dennis additionally commented on the DfT’s claims that official collision information does not assist an increase headlight glare inflicting crashes.

‘There are recognized shortcomings regarding the official street casualty information not precisely capturing the true variety of incidents related to headlight glare, so it’s completely proper that the subject is investigated correctly to grasp what could be performed to maintain everybody secure,’ he stated. 

Baroness Hayter stated the Government’s contemporary dedication to undertake analysis into the difficulty is a ‘victory for all these drivers affected by glare who’ve complained to their MP, signed the parliamentary petition, or certainly sought assist from an optometrist – solely to find the issue was with headlights, and never their eyes’.

Seven methods to restrict the influence of glare – and stop dazzling others

1. Slow down at night time

If the glare from an oncoming car at night time is so dangerous that you simply quickly can’t see something, you must decelerate to cut back the chance of the influence in your impaired visibility.

However, keep away from slowing or stopping abruptly as you don’t need a automobile that’s travelling behind you operating into the again of you. 

2. Don’t look instantly at oncoming headlights

To stop your self from being dazzled, by no means look instantly on the headlights of different vehicles.

Look to the left-hand aspect of the street and comply with the white line marking the sting if there may be one, so you’ll be able to maintain monitor of your place, the RAC recommends. 

3. Make positive your windscreen is evident 

Windscreens are notably inclined to steaming up on the within, particularly in chilly climate, whereas automobile heaters can blow soiled air on the glass, inflicting a hazy movie to construct up on the within. 

This can improve glare from oncoming headlamps, so guarantee yours is clear and clear.

4. Adjust your rear-view mirror 

Drivers at night time ought to dip the rear-view mirror to cut back the chance of being dazzled by motorists following them.

Many new motors in showrooms at the moment have an auto-dimming rear-view mirror perform. If your automobile does not then try to be dipping the mirror manually.

5. Consider anti-glare glasses

If being dazzled by different drivers’ headlights or avenue lighting is a matter, motorists ought to take into account anti-glare glasses when driving at night time.

These aren’t merely glasses with yellow tints, which might help scale back glare by additionally make darker areas of the street much less seen and are due to this fact not really helpful.

Specsavers has a product known as SuperDrive lenses for varifocal wearers, whereas all of its glasses could be fitted with a transparent ‘SuperClean Smart’ remedy, which is specifically designed to assist scale back reflections and dazzle attributable to oncoming headlights and avenue lighting — serving to you might have a safer journey. 

Motorists affected by glare at night time ought to seek the advice of with their optician. 

6. Use low beams the place doable to safeguard different drivers

Use your low-beam headlights as a substitute of excessive beams when driving in well-lit areas or when approaching different automobiles as excessive beams can considerably improve glare.

7. Regularly regulate your headlights

Ensure that your headlights are appropriately aimed, particularly in case you are usually travelling with heavy hundreds, which might influence the peak of your lights beam. 

Misaligned headlights not solely contribute to blinding different drivers however will even scale back your individual visibility.

What the RAC’s research into headlight dazzling discovered 

The RAC on the finish of 2023 polled 2,000 UK licence holders about headlight glare and the influence it has on them. 

Of all of the drivers who complained concerning the brightness of automobile headlights, some 91 per cent say they’ve been dazzled when driving within the final 12 months.

Meanwhile, three quarters stated they’re partially blinded by different automobiles on an everyday event.

The situation has develop into so dangerous lately that two in three of the panel stated they need to decelerate significantly after affected by glare from one other automobile’s headlights – and might’t decide up velocity once more till just a few moments later once they can see clearly.

And 68 per cent stated they’re unable to see clearly once more for between one and 5 seconds, and an extra one in 10 stated it takes six or extra seconds to get get well their full imaginative and prescient.

Worryingly, solely momentarily dropping full visibility for such a period is sufficient for a driver travelling at 60mph to cowl 160 metres – which is the equal of 40 vehicles lengths – with out having the ability to see correctly.

More than three in 5 drivers say it has reached such problematic ranges that dazzling is changing into a reason for accidents.

In reality, 5 per cent of those drivers instructed the RAC they’ve almost been concerned in a collision themselves because of having their eyesight quickly compromised by vibrant headlights.

Alarmingly, 7 per cent stated they discover headlight glare so dangerous on the roads at the moment that they keep away from driving at night time altogether, a determine that rises to 14 per cent for drivers aged 65 and over.

Having yearly researched and revealed experiences on the variety of motorists affected by dazzling on the street since 2018, the RAC says there may be loads of proof to point out that is changing into a rising concern. 

Blue-tinted LED headlights are now commonly fitted to new models. These are often far brighter than the yellower halogen bulbs used in older vehicles

Blue-tinted LED headlights are actually generally fitted to new fashions. These are sometimes far brighter than the yellower halogen bulbs utilized in older automobiles

Four causes for the rise in drivers being dazzled

1. Brighter white-tint LED lights changing ‘yellower’ halogen bulbs

Some 87 per cent of drivers polled by the RAC earlier this 12 months assume dazzling is changing into an growing situation due to headlights showing a lot brighter.

This might be a results of the growing prevalence of vehicles fitted with LED headlights, resulting in a way more intense and targeted beam that the human eye reacts in a different way to, in comparison with a standard ‘yellower’ halogen bulb.

While LED headlights are nice for enhancing a driver’s view of the street forward, this may be to the detriment of different street customers who encounter them.

Arguably the biggest contributor to the rise in dazzling is the switch to brighter LED headlights instead of halogen bulbs. The former are often whiter and more likely to temporarily blind oncoming motorists, while the latter are yellower and less likely to cause glare

Arguably the largest contributor to the rise in dazzling is the swap to brighter LED headlights as a substitute of halogen bulbs. The former are sometimes whiter and extra more likely to quickly blind oncoming motorists, whereas the latter are yellower and fewer more likely to trigger glare

2. Cheap LED aftermarket bulbs

One different reason for the rise in dazzling on the street is using sub-standard LED bulbs that may be bought on-line.

Cheap replacements, particularly for older vehicles utilizing halogen bulbs, could be dangerously vibrant or produce the unsuitable beam sample, each of which might quickly blind oncoming motorists.

Only bulbs with an ‘E’ mark are deemed authorized in Britain, however aftermarket LED upgrades can’t be issued one in all these licensed marks. This is as a result of no laws presently exists for using LED expertise in a headlight unit constructed for halogens.

However, that is tough to police. And even MOT testers aren’t required to examine if a bulb is E marked as a result of time-consuming nature of getting to entry the product.

This is why it’s all the time really helpful to buy alternative bulbs out of your automobile from respected producers, reminiscent of Osram and Philips.

3. Drivers failing to regulate lights

More than two in 5 of the two,000 motorists polled by the RAC in January assume the rise in dazzling is attributable to badly aligned headlights.

A Freedom of Information request submitted to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency in November 2023 reveals that since 2019, a mean of 1.6million, or 5 per cent, of vehicles failed their MOTs resulting from poor headlight intention.

What’s extra, with the DVSA stating in 2016 that ‘headlamp intention constantly tops the MOT compliance survey as probably the most doubtless objects to be assessed incorrectly by testers’, the precise determine might be a lot greater.

The RAC also believes the increase in the number of high-riding SUVs on the road is increasing cases of drivers dazzled

The RAC additionally believes the rise within the variety of high-riding SUVs on the street is growing instances of drivers dazzled

4. Increasing recognition of SUVs

The rise in gross sales of SUVs can be a contributing issue within the improve in threat of being dazzled at night time, based on respondents to each the AA ballot and the one carried out by the RAC final month.

Because they’re greater off the bottom – and due to this fact their lights positioned greater than a hatchback or saloon – they threat shining instantly into the face of oncoming motorists in standard vehicles.

Three in 5 (62 per cent) RAC members who drive non-SUV fashions blame the spike in dazzling on greater automobiles, whereas solely 35 per cent of these in greater automobiles level the finger equally sized automobiles.

Older drivers usually tend to be dazzled by headlights 

Mike Bowen from the College of Optometrists warns that older drivers are more susceptible to being dazzled on the road

Mike Bowen from the College of Optometrists warns that older drivers are extra inclined to being dazzled on the street

Mike Bowen, director of data and analysis on the College of Optometrists, warns that older drivers are extra inclined to being dazzled on the street.

‘The outcomes from this analysis by the RAC are useful to tell our understanding of how modifications in car headlight applied sciences could also be affecting each the useful imaginative and prescient of younger and older drivers, and their visible consolation, when driving at night time,’ he stated.

‘Older drivers are more likely to be disproportionately affected by headlight glare, so could also be extra more likely to expertise difficulties or to resolve to not drive at night time in any respect.

‘We urge the Government to fee extra technical and scientific analysis to have a greater understanding of this situation and what needs to be performed to ease the consequences of dazzling headlights.’

John Kushnick, authorized operations director at National Accident Helpline instructed This is Money that dazzling vibrant headlights can pose ‘vital street security dangers for drivers, affecting their visibility and doubtlessly resulting in accidents’ and urged motorists to report automobiles with blinding lights to the police.

He suggested: ‘It’s essential for drivers to stay vigilant on the roads and keep conscious of the potential hazards attributable to dazzling headlights and take proactive measures to mitigate the dangers. 

‘Additionally, street security authorities and car producers play a job in establishing and implementing laws to make sure that car lighting programs adhere to security requirements.

‘It’s essential for drivers to recollect to play it secure should you can not see as a result of vibrant headlights; decelerate, keep away from all difficult manoeuvres, and don’t pull out of a aspect street.’