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Better Headlights on the Way for American Vehicles

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Many American drivers are stuck with subpar or poorly installed headlight technology — but that situation could change soon.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frequently takes vehicle models to task for offering headlights rated less than “adequate.” Good headlights using newer technologies are often available only on higher-priced models. And now that most vehicles use plastic headlight lenses, clouding is also an issue.

Even when cars receive headlight technology that’s better in theory, in practice it’s often installed or aligned improperly. Not only does this make it harder to see the road, but the resulting harsh glare is also a dangerous nuisance to other drivers.

Vehicles in Canada, Europe, and elsewhere have already received a more effective setup known as adaptive driving beam (ADB). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is in the midst of approving and regulating these lights’ use in the U.S.

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Made up of multiple LED arrays, ADB lights provide full-time high-beam light. They’re controlled via software and cameras that can automatically adjust beam intensity, direct light away from oncoming vehicles, and more effectively illuminate signs and pedestrians. ADB lights can also be designed for trailering, which can tamper with proper headlight angles by weighing down the vehicle’s rear end.

Other headlight technologies in the works include laser-assisted long-range LED high beams and LED chips with micro mirrors for a customized lighting look. Designers are also working on creating plastic headlight lenses that are less vulnerable to clouding.

With these innovations in the works, American drivers can look forward to a future with better-illuminated roads, and one where even lower-cost vehicles are equipped with quality headlights.

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News Source: Detroit Free Press