Technology in cars has advanced exponentially in the past 20 years, and headlights are no exception.They're for sure brighter,but have headlights gotten so bright that they're bad?Headlights are a safety feature.Without them, you wouldn't be able to drive at night.Other drivers wouldn't be able to see you at night,But some newer headlights,whether they're insanely bright or just aimed incorrectly create enough glare to distract and even blind other drivers.
We're gonna talk a little bit about the history of headlights then go over the various types before we get into the problems and the potential solutions.
The first headlight, as we think of headlights nowadays,was introduced in 1908.Initially they were a high-priced upgrade,but by 1911 the carbon bulb was the industry standard.
Pretty early on, federal laws were passed that dictated cars not only had to have electric headlights but they had to produce a certain amount of light,measured in lumens, and point only in specific directions.
Headlights, same as any other light in general,are measured in lumens.Put simply, lumens is a measurement of the brightness of the light that a source emits.In the early 60's,Italian auto manufacturers started using halogen bulbs.They were essentially incandescent lights,not unlike the ones found in your house,but they had additions like bromide.that made the bulbs glow brighter.Although the technology isn't the most efficient,halogen bulbs are still used in the majority of headlights today.A standard halogen headlight will put out around 1,300 lumens.To put that in perspective,that's the same as about four Maglites.
Slightly brighter than the halogen bulbs are LED lights.These lights put out about 1,600 lumens on average,but are much more efficient and have a longer life than halogen.HID, or high intensity discharge bulbs,are significantly brighter than halogen and LED.
And you may know them by another more common name, xenon.Xenon headlights produce, on average, 3,000 lumens,more than double that of halogen bulbs.BMW was the first to use them in their 7 Series Sedan,which is probably why you associate rich holes with xenon headlights,but guess what, it gets worse.
Laser headlights, what the Laser headlights can be found on new BMW i8s,and 7 Series, and the Audi R8.Apart from being the smallest and most efficient of the bunch.
Lasers can also be up to four times as bright as LEDs.
Well, it may be true that French cars had yellow headlights for a while,but it wasn't because of the color temperature.From the beginning of World War II to around 1993,France required that all cars have yellow headlights to distinguish themselves from enemy vehicles.The law stuck around long after the war ended.It was only when the EU forced France to conform to its standards that the yellow headlights law was dropped.So like I said at the top,headlights are getting brighter,but brightness isn't the only thing that's making headlights dangerous.
A study done by AML Sytems found that nearly 10% of cars on the road have incorrectly positioned headlights.That doesn't sound like much,but for people that live in the cities like L.A.,you're seeing around 3,000 cars a day,so if 10% of those cars have beams that are aimed poorly,that's like 300 cars.Those headlights account for anywhere from 3 to 30% more glare than the National Highway and Traffic Safely Administration allows.Misaim is caused by anything from a bumpy road,to luggage in the trunk,to low tire pressure,but the overwhelming amount of misaimed headlights come from improperly positioned headlights that the owner or mechanic installed.
If you've installed headlights and you didn't measure the beam correctly,chances are they are positioned incorrectly.
Here's something you can do.This method of checking to see if your headlights are positioned correctly is super easy.
All you need is a roll of masking tape, and a screwdriver.
How to aim and adjust headlights correctly?
1.Find a location with awall and a level surface.
Park your car with the headlight facing a wall or garage door about 25 feet away.
Pull your car right up against the wall and turn on your low beams.
2.Using the tape, markthe center of the car.
Find the horizontal middle of each headlight and mark it on the wall using the tape.
Now, mark the vertical center line for each headlight using the tape.
Then take a milk break.
3.Now, look at the lights on the wall.
Headlight to be a little bit lower so it doesn’t blind oncoming traffic.The highest point where the light shine on the door should be about the same or maybe a little bit lower than the height of the headlights themselves,measured from the ground and it is perfectly normal for the driver side,they should be about 2 inches lower than the mark, and slightly to the right.
3.If you live in an area that drives on the left,your headlights should be slightly to the left.
4.Now that you've checked and found that your headlights are aimed incorrectly,
it's time to adjust them.Pop the hood and look at the top of the headlight.
There are 2 screws,one for vertical adjustment,and one for horizontal.
While your car is still pointing at the wall,adjust the headlights accordingly.That was easy.
Some cars actually have auto-leveling headlights.AML Systems, the same company who made that study,makes a system that automatically measures and adjusts headlights on its own.The LuMEMS System, possibly the corniest named system in the automotive industry,uses front and rear sensors on the chassis to read and re-position the headlights depending on the car's angle.Wrongly positioned low beams are one thing,but drivers who use high beams when it's not necessary are a whole nother level of dangerous,and you know who I'm talking about.
You could be driving down the the 10, in the rain.
Next thing you know you're trying to change lanes,but there is some 1995 C-Class, silver mind you,
So, how bright is too bright?
If your headlights are aimed properly you shouldn't need laser beams to light up the road.