Smarter Driver: Why headlights need help --- from you
Cooley On Cars
Well it's dusk, evening's approaching.
You're about to out-drive your headlights.
You're probably driving at a speed where what you can hit is out there beyond what you can see.
You can remedy it with better lights and more use of them.
A recent study by the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center Says bottom line, better headlights should be standard, not a luxury tech option.
They examined the real world performance of three basic families of headlights.
First, Halogen headlights, like what I've got here in the 88 Ford, and what maybe 80% of cars on the road in the in the U.S. today have as well.
Then High-Intensity Discharge headlights.
Those are the ones that give you that kind of whitish-blue, really intense beams.
And finally, LED headlights, which to be honest are still pretty exotic.
They examine each kind of headlight technology for it's reach.
That would be how well it can illuminate something non-reflective like an animal or a typically dressed person on a road without overhead streetlights.
Which, by the way, accounts for 40 percent of the miles we drive each year.
Well first of all, Halogen just doesn't cut it.
You could over drive them as low as 40 miles an hour.
High intensity and LED low beams extend illumination by about 25% beyond halogen.
High intensity and LED high beams got out to nearly 500 feet.
And that covers you up to about 55 miles an hour.
And both those advanced types put out less light here in the U.S than the same ones on cars sold in Europe.
It's a regulatory thing.
Now the behavior piece is interesting.
They also found that most of us are kinda shy about using our high beams.
We're afraid to blind the guy in front of us or we're too lazy to sit there and flick on flick off all the time So we overdrive our low beams typically.
But this is kind of a shame because your high beams can buy you 28% or so more reaction time.
That's really a big deal.
So three take aways.
Use your high beams.
See if the next car you buy offers auto high beams to do all the flicking for you.
Second, opt for high intensity or LED headlights.
They really do make a difference in reach.
And, third, check your car for cloudy headlamp lenses.
They don't just reduce your range, they also scatter more glare at the other guy.
It pays to double check if your car has the most modern lighting technology, especially if you're buying a new one.
Know if you're using your high-beams, and not getting lazy and ignoring them, and realize that no matter what mode you're in, you're very likely out-driving your lights.
More realities of modern driving revealed now at CNETOnCars.com.
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