Dazzling car headlights issue sparks petition and government investigation

April 04, 2024 by

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Some of the latest headlights could be dimmed by new legislation if independent research commissioned by the government shows that they dazzle other drivers.

A survey by the RAC found that nine-in-10 drivers find some car headlights are too bright and that 91% said they get dazzled by them.

Over 12,000 people have signed a petition to review the brightness of car headlights for safety. If it gets 100,000 signatures by the deadline of 15 July 2024 it will be considered for debate in Parliament.

On 27 March, 2024, the government issued this response: “The Government has taken action internationally to address concerns raised about headlamp glare. Recognising the need for further evidence, we intend to commission independent research shortly.”

Existing international standards say that headlamps must be designed and tested to be bright enough to illuminate the road but not affect the vision of other road users. This includes beam pattern and minimum and maximum intensities of headlights.

“We know that lots of people raise concerns about headlight glare – but also that the police collision statistics don’t show any underlying road safety issue,” the government response continued.

The Department for Transport has raised the issue at a United Nations group on vehicle lighting. In April 2023, proposals to amend headlamp aiming rules were agreed, including automatic headlamp levelling to become mandatory from September 2027.

The government’s new research aims to “better understand the root causes of driver glare and identify any further appropriate mitigations”.

RAC road safety spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “The fact the Government has listened to drivers’ concerns and heeded our calls to examine the complex issue of headlight glare in more detail marks a real turning point. The topic has undoubtedly struck a chord with motorists up and down the country, with many people contacting us directly to call for something to be done.

“An independent study provides a golden opportunity for the Government and industry to get to the bottom of the problem. We’re aware of regulatory changes being made at an international level that will hopefully make a difference in many years to come, but are concerned that these alone may not be enough to address headlight dazzle.

“There are also known shortcomings concerning the official road casualty data not accurately capturing the true number of incidents associated with headlight glare, so it’s absolutely right that the topic is investigated properly to understand what can be done to keep everyone safe.”

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