There is an interesting incident, we always feel that the road seems dark to our field of vision driving on road, what’s wrong with that? It might blame to your headlights for the new headlight test. In common cases, while driving on dark or on lonely two-lane roads, which most often shared with bear, deer and moose, a factory headlight cannot emit enough lighting the emergencies on the side roads to remind the car owner in advance.
For example, the Toyota RAV4 2005 to 2016 models, use an Electric Power Steering (EPS) system, but its headlight, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the best RAV4 headlights, even for the 2016 models are still only the qualified headlight that not fit the rules entirely.
However, not only the RAV4 did not up to the rules, dozens of vehicles headlights have been tested, include small S.U.V.s and midsize cars, only one headlight rated “good”. That is 2016 Toyota Prius V, the best others just were merely approved, and many vehicles fared much worse.
There is one reason for that defect caused. The federal standard for headlights took effective in 1968. Although some change has made in the standard, there is no big difference in the actual headlight testing process. Decades of development in lighting technology since that time, but the government just test the headlight in one laboratory situation, nor test in the actual vehicles on dark or winding roads. For more, the federal standard did not launch the rules of how far the distance should the headlights illuminate.
In order to help the automotive industry to do better in their headlight, the insurance company make a safety standard for an automotive manufacturer. Based on insurance companies note that almost half of traffic deaths in the United States occur at dusk, night or dawn. And a large number of studies found that many drivers do not use their high beams. For that condition, car makers should produce headlights which can ensure the drivers to see a certain distance while using high low beam.
The automotive industry’s chief regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has the power to update headlight standards. But it takes a lot of time to change a standard, which is a cumbersome process, perhaps it may take years. On July 2012, the agency announced to seek public comment for the headlight regulation. In this statement, it indicated it was updating the headlight rules, but no one knows the execution time. So for some automotive manufacturers might regard as a public relations mandate, if the insurance group take action, though its ratings are not legally binding.
Starting from January 2017, if a vehicle headlight doesn’t get an “acceptable” or “good” rating, it would not be eligible Top Safety Pick+ designation for the insurance group, which is a key selling point for some automotive manufacturers. On the one hand, Nissan and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said they would improve their headlights by using this information. Honda said the new rigorous testing would present a “new challenge to all automakers” seeking to earn the group’s top rating in 2017. In fact, it was not the first time the insurance group appeals the automotive manufacturers to make improvement. For example, they urge automakers to modify vehicle models to get better ratings.
In the insurance group tests, engineers measure how far the vehicle headlights can illuminate light to help drivers see down on the road on straightaways and curves, and how much the glare made by the headlights for the oncoming drivers. This test is in contrast with the laboratory tests by the N.H.T.S.A. The later cannot know clearly while on the road, how much the visibility for a driver would have with the headlights. It would be a great different real-world performance if putting the same headlight high on a pickup or down low on a sports car.
In the federal standard, there are no specifications about how the headlights should be focused once they are out of the laboratory and installed in a vehicle. So that why many headlights performed poorly in the test, they were not focused well.
The insurance group is “requesting a level of precision that has not been required of automakers when it comes to aiming the headlights on their vehicles”. But Michael Flannagan, research associate professor in the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute said the lighting companies and car companies are concerned because they see the ratings as unfairly negative. If you cannot aim them well, they will look bad, that is not blamed to the headlight design quality. A tenth of a degree, the difference is also important. If the vehicle is sold by dealers with bad aims after coming out of factories, its headlight needs to be carefully dealt with.
The halogen headlights are filled with halogen gas and have been in use since the 1970s to replace the incandescent bulbs. But it was replaced and surpassed by light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or high-intensity-discharge (HID) lamps in an automotive headlight. In Europe and Japan, there is a new headlight technology with “adaptive driving beams”, which can reduce the glare for oncoming drivers while providing high beam visibility everywhere. They are infinitely variable without using high and low beam. Before there is a great change, the insurance group suggest vehicle owners using the high beam as often as possible.
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