US to allow brighter, self-dimming headlights on new cars

October 12, 2018

With many new cars, trucks, and SUVs failing to meet more stringent headlight safety standards from the federal government and the IIHS, the NHTSA announced Thursday it plans to change regulations to help headlight development.

The agency said in its report that it plans to allow development of “adaptive driving beam” headlights on new cars, which essentially operate as high-beam headlights as default, and dim specific portions of the beam when an oncoming vehicle is detected by sensors.

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The NHTSA said in a statement that the technology “has the potential to reduce the risk of crashes by increasing visibility without increasing glare,” and will offer safety benefits for pedestrians, cyclists, and even animals.

This move comes after many 2018 and 2019 model year vehicles have performed poorly in both government and independent headlight tests with new criteria. The tests have been particularly tough for anything less than top-of-the-line LED headlight units, which can be expensive and are not available on all models.

Audi, Toyota, and other automakers have been lobbying the NHTSA to update headlight standards for years, the former in an attempt to get its laser headlight technology approved for use on U.S. roads like it currently is in Europe and other markets.

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