David Zuby, the institute’s executive vice president and chief researcher, told the Associated Press that regulations for headlights “are essentially unchanged” since the 1960s.
Mirroring Consumer Reports test results, this first-ever vehicle headlight ratings evaluation by IIHS shines light on how lamps are underperforming. Of the 31 models tested, 11 earned “acceptable” ratings, nine were “marginal“, and 10 were “poor“.
Most people buying cars don’t think about the quality of the headlights.
The halogen lights on the BMW 3 Series sedan “are the worst”, the Institute said.
That’s important because of the more than 32,000 traffic deaths a year ago, about half happened at night or during dawn and dusk when visibility is lower.
“Many headlight problems could be fixed with better aim”, according to one of the engineers at the IIHS.
Can we just get vehicles with decent headlights? “A better choice for the same auto is an LED curve-adaptive system with high-beam assist, a combination that rates marginal“.
The IIHS placed light sensors along its test track to evaluate low- and high-beam performance on five different approaches: straight, sharp left/right turns and gradual left/right curves. If you’re driving in the dark in your Beemer, the study says you shouldn’t go more than 35 miles per hour, otherwise you won’t be able to stop in time after you spot an obstacle in the travel lane.
The Toyota Prius v, a station wagon, was the only midsize auto out of 31 evaluated to earn a “good” rating.
Second, Brumbelow believes that many auto makers have sacrificed styling and aesthetics of its headlights over its ability to provide adequate illumination.
The BMW 3 series illuminated only 130 feet on the right side of a straight stretch of road in the IIHS tests.
Vehicles equipped with high-beam assist, which automatically switches between high beams and low beams depending on the presence of other vehicles, may earn back some points taken off for less-than-ideal low beam visibility.
Government standards for judging the performance of headlights “are essentially unchanged” since they were set back in the 1960s, Zuby said.
“In the standard, they are measuring the light coming out of the light source – right in front of the light bulb, in essence – and not looking at how the light is projected down the road, which is what our tests do”, Zuby told the AP.