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IIHS Headlight Test Illuminates Small SUV Headlight Problems

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The amount of safety technologies available in the industry has grown significantly over the past decade, and will continue to do so as the advent of fully autonomous cars approaches. One safety technology that doesn’t appear to be improving, though, might be one of the most important—and the one that is, ironically, most often overlooked.

In a recent study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that vehicle headlights haven’t gotten any better over the past few years, even though they have become more elaborate.

Talk about illuminating an issue.

Sir Patrick Stewart Giggle

Terrible puns aside, the study tested 82 headlight systems across 31 models from the 2016 model year. Of these 31 models from both mainstream and luxury brands, only one car received the top “good” rating for its headlights. That means significantly less than 1% of vehicles tested passed the headlight test—and we use our headlights every single day.

The cars were tested on the IIHS’s own track after dark and took on both straight-aways and curves. High beams and low beams were also tested, and the glare from the low beams was measured and compared to a theoretical ideal lighting system.

VIDEO: Watch the IIHS Test Headlights

After testing 31 cars, the IIHS decided to also do the headlight test on small crossover SUVs. Unsurprisingly, these test results wielded similar results. Out of the 21 models tested—which equaled 47 headlight configurations—not a single vehicle managed to hit the top “good” rating. That’s right. Small crossover SUVs, the vehicle that many parents are turning to for their next family car, all have completely inadequate headlights.

Needless to say, the IIHS is planning on giving carmakers an incentive to make headlights safer. Beginning with the 2017 model year, vehicles must receive “good” or “acceptable” ratings on headlights to receive the safety organization’s coveted Top Safety Pick+ award.

News Source: Digital Trends (1); Digital Trends (2)