Why Are Headlights So Bright?

Wed 16th Mar 2022

Modern technology in cars is more often than not an excellent improvement for motoring, but the results of a new survey has found that nine out of ten drivers believe that modern car headlights are too bright.

The survey of 2,700 motorists by he RAC found that 88 per cent had been dazzled by other motorists, with a quarter believing that it is happening more often than it did just two years ago.

According to the motoring organisation there are a variety of factors which make motorists believe that car headlights are too bright, with more SUVs (and higher placed headlights), wrongly adjusted beams and cheap aftermarket bulbs all contributing to the problem.

Some car headlights are so bright that many drivers don’t know if the oncoming car has the lights dipped or on full beam. Perhaps surprisingly, younger drivers are complaining about the problem the most, which may seem strange as they have less reference points and might not have driven during a time when car lights were rather dim. However three out of ten drivers under 35 believed it to be a problem, compared to one in five aged 65 and over.

The RAC’s research also reveals the danger of dazzling headlights with 77 per cent saying that it took five to six seconds to recover from the exposure.

“There are a number of factors that contribute to whether a headlight dazzles another driver or not, the most important being the angle of the headlights as you look at them. 

“If they're not angled properly – or the driver in the oncoming car has forgotten to dip their headlights – there's every chance you're going to get blinded,” said RAC spokesman, Rod Dennis.

“Modern LED headlight technology may also have a part to play as the human eye reacts to the so-called 'blue light' from LEDs differently to the "yellow light" of conventional halogen headlights.

“This presents a real irony: the brighter and better your vehicle's headlights are, the clearer your night-time view of the road ahead is, often it seems at the expense of anyone coming towards you. 

“The full intensity of your headlights – especially if they're not angled down correctly – can cause oncoming drivers to momentarily glance away from the road or even be blinded for a few seconds. 

“In short, being dazzled isn't just about discomfort, it also represents a significant road safety risk.”