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  • Are brighter headlights helpful? Or hurtful? Or a statement?

    Discussion in 'The Leisure Lounge' started by ced53, Nov 26, 2012.

    1. ced53

      ced53 New Member

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      This is a discussion topic only. I do not think we are going to overturn marketing decisions that sell cars. But I do think it warrants discussion and I'd like to hear what others think.[FONT=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]
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      [FONT=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]Do headlights need to be better, as in brighter? For many years, with poorly lit roads, we survived with low lumen lights. But we had highbeams for those rural dark roads. High beams were not actually brighter just aimed higher and so would blind oncoming drivers or a driver in front (via mirrors). We all know the procedure, if a dark road led to one's trying to look beyond the standard low beams, bights would really light up the road. Oncoming cars require the high beams go off; failure to do so is rude and may draw a flash of the high beams from the oncoming driver. In the case of a leading driver being blinded, there is little or no recourse. [/FONT]

      So now we have halogen lights with a blue tinge and severe brightness. Although low beams are still aimed down, in many places (like New England) the rolling hills just about everywhere make blinding low beams very common. So in recent years getting blinded is more common, getting blinded by negligence (either oversight or not knowing the rules) is more common, The hills and negligence apply just the same for a driver behind.



      Also in recent years, we have better lit streets and roads, and a much smaller percentage of drivers actually needing brighter lights. We now could do most nighttime driving with our lights off, although for safety they should be on. And there are lots of roads where this is not true. But a large, very large, proportion of our driving these days is both well lit and in lots of traffic.



      So are we talking improvement? Or are we talking about seriously over lit new cars, on roads that are better lit than ever, with SUVs aggravating the problem with headlights mounted higher than ever (and fog lights always on)? Where will it end?

      My opinion is that newer are more dangerous and not safer.
       
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    3. ChrisW

      ChrisW Well-Known Member

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      In my 'umble opinion, the new generation headlights are downright dangerous!

      It is worse in the UK because driving on the left, we have a dip beam cut-off pattern raised to illuminate signs etc to the left. European headlights (and illegally imported bulbs) cut to the right dazzling all oncoming traffic.

      Also, more folk are having laser eye surgery which can cause flare when looking at bright objects at night. I suffer from this having had cataracts removed years ago. More light = more flare.

      It can only get worse as manufacturers adopt LED headlights which are somehow much more intense.

      While I'm having a good rant, can I throw in the morons who drive all the time with high intensity front fog lights on, cos they think it's cool! Again, downright dangerous in the wet when I really want oncoming traffic to not just see me but see me clearly.

      It's not just cars either, I live near a cycle route (just a country lane which someone thinks is a good route to send more cyclists down). High power cycle LED lights are incredibly intense and usually aimed high by the cyclist who fails to make the connection that the oncoming motorist is less likely to hit them if they aren't blinded!

      Thanks CED, good opportunity for a rant.
       
    4. Dana

      Dana Well-Known Member

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      Living in a relatively rural area and also having a cabin in a remote mountain area, my vote is for more light is better. Some years back I had a Jeep with some very bright offroad lights and boy, were they nice to have on dark mountain roads! Of course they weren't street legal, you have to be ready to dim them as soon as you see the hint of light from an oncoming car around the bend. I never used them around town.

      Older massive cars fared much better with in a collision with, say, a deer on a dark night. When a modern car hits a deer it often totals the car... another argument for bright lights.

      Modern lights can be designed to focus much more precisely than the old sealed beam lights. Many modern cars have a very sharp cutoff... if they're properly adjusted. The flip side is that these modern lights are usually made of plastic, and I've seen a lot of broken headlight assemblies on late model cars, with no control over where they're pointed.

      There is already a legal limit on how bright lights can be. That doesn't mean that people don't illegally put brighter bulbs in. A solution could be to allow brighter high beams, if combined with a photosensor that automatically dims them if it senses any oncoming light.

      I do think we have way too much street lighting nowadays; light pollution and energy usage are at absurd levels today, and whole generations are growing up without ever knowing the peacefulness of a dark night.
       
    5. KarenL9

      KarenL9 Member

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      I am short sighted and as result my eyes are sensitive to bright light. I therefore I originally bought glasses with anti-glare coating and darkening in sunlight coating. I gave up the anti-glare coating a few years ago as it seemed to make my eyes more sensitive to head light glare. I bought new glasses this year without the darkening in sunlight coating and have found that sensitivity to head light glare has decreased even more. I do wonder if making headlights brighter defeats the objective. What is needed is a more effective light source? One that enables all drivers to see enough detail without blinding on-coming traffic.
       
    6. Tuan B

      Tuan B Member

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      I think it also depends on the Kelvin value of the light. HID systems retrofit in cars these days offer ridiculous temps and anything higher than about 6000K starts becoming annoying since they're almost purple (some people like they're car looking like a clown car) and offer no real improved visibility; actually, they work to hurt visibility.
       
    7. CarlK

      CarlK New Member

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      I'm in a situation similar to Dana's. I live in the north woods of MN and most of my driving is on country roads with deer and other critters and with no lighting other than my headlights, so bright lights are good. The new, blueish headlights, however, are not good. The blue wavelengths seriously affect a person's night vision. Red light (think a red lens on a flashlight) doesn't bother night vision much at all. Blue, however, is on the other end of the visible spectrum and our eyes adjust to it by closing down the pupil, after which it takes a long while to recover after one passes by the oncoming blue headlights. And who knows what's lurking in the dark further down the road? So the blue headlights present a serious challenge when they're shining in our eyes, even if they are on low beam. Brighter yellow or white lights are not nearly so dangerous as the blue ones. IMHO, the blue headlights should be banned.
       

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