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AAA Study Claims Adaptive Driving Beam Headlights Could Make Nighttime Driving Safer for Americans

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ABD headlights, available in Europe and Canada, can increase nighttime visibility by as much as 86 percent when compared to low beam headlights

Headlights
ABD headlights could provide American drivers with a better view while driving at night
Photo: Steve Johnson

When it comes to driving at night, American drivers are faced with the difficult decision on whether to use their high beams or low beams. High beam lights increase visibility, but can also create glare for any drivers ahead of those beams; meanwhile, low beams won’t blind other drivers, but may not provide the amount of light needed to see obstacles on the road ahead.

According to AAA, the solution to this problem is adaptive driving beam headlights (ABD), which are already available in Europe and Canada.


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ABD headlights shine high beams at all times. When an oncoming vehicle is detected, an area of the high beams is shaded to prevent any glare.

U.S. vehicles have a similar technology with automatic high beams. However, this system automatically switches to low beams when a vehicle is detected. This can be a major difference, as ABD headlights increase roadway lighting by as much as 86 percent when compared to low beam headlights.

Having only low beam headlights on can be a major problem at higher speeds. AAA estimates that at speeds of 40 mph or higher, drivers won’t be able to appropriately react in time to an oncoming object in the road, which can result in an accident.

Bright Headlights
ABD headlights provide the benefits of high beams without the glare
Photo: Sharat Ganapati

Furthermore, research indicates that 64 percent of American drivers do not regularly use high beams while driving at night.

“Driving at night doesn’t have to be such a risky undertaking for Americans,” states John Nielsen, managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, AAA. “The technology not only exists but is being used in other parts of the world to effectively provide the amount of light needed to keep drivers and pedestrians safer.”

AAA notes that another shortcoming of American headlights is that they are assessed for safety in a controlled lab environment. This testing may miss out on crucial aspects of on-road night driving.


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There is a sizeable amount of evidence that ABD headlights on similar tech could be on the way to the states. The National highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently proposed an amendment that would allow automakers to add ABD headlights to their U.S. vehicles.

Nevertheless, laws and regulations take quite a bit of time to change. In the meantime, AAA says that drivers should make sure their vehicle’s headlights are in top condition, so as to maximize visibility while driving at night.

Source: AAA