The problem of ‘blinding’ car headlights – and how to stay safe on the road – The Telegraph

March 13, 2022 by No Comments

LEDs give off a very directional light, which means if one is pointing straight at you it will appear far brighter than a halogen lamp. But the colour tone is much more like natural light so when you’re driving a car with LEDs, you’ll be able to see more in the dark.

Another benefit of LED lighting is that with headlights made up of multiple units, portions of the lamp can switch on or off automatically depending on different road conditions. This is called matrix lighting and enables cars to give drivers maximum ‘main beam’ lighting for the prevailing conditions and speed without dazzling oncoming drivers.

At least that’s the theory. I’ve tried these systems on numerous models over the years. Initially, they were terrible. After the early novelty, the first thing I’d do was switch the system off to stop other drivers flashing their annoyance at me.

The systems have got better. But they’re still prone to blinding oncoming drivers, particularly on country roads. 

A human driver can see an approaching car on a dark lane even if they’re round a bend. Matrix systems don’t have this anticipation and only switch off when they ‘see’ the oncoming headlights. Effectively, they must wait to blind another driver before adjusting.

Optician Fazlanie summed it up: “Brighter lights mean you can see hazards more clearly. But if you’re also suffering from the glare of other people’s headlights it cancels that benefit out.”

What can we do about it?

The law isn’t on the dazzled driver’s side. The AA’s Edmund King said: “Although some newer vehicle headlights are extremely bright, if the beam pattern is set correctly as per MOT spec, there isn’t much the law or MOT testers can do to change the brightness.”

Optician Aishah Fazlanie believes looking after our own eye health is vital. She said: “Regular eye tests are key. Ensure your prescription is up to date; make sure your glasses and windscreen are clean; and don’t drive with scratched lenses in your glasses.”

What about the yellow tinted glasses that claim to reduce glare? Fazlanie isn’t convinced. “If they’re not prescribed by an eye-care professional I’d be wary,” she said. “You’d be better off having regular eye tests.”

Are brighter lights solely to blame?



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