UPDATE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated General Motors was not part of the group pushing the NHTSA to update the FMVSS to include new headlight technology. GM has in fact submitted comments to the NHTSA in support of changing the FMVSS. We’ve updated the story accordingly. We apologizes for the error.
Nighttime driving is the most dangerous kind of driving not only for drivers, but also for pedestrians. Not helping matters is that low-beam headlights on current vehicles often fail to provide sufficient illumination at night, making driving even worse. What’s upsetting is that the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), governed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), are not only insufficient when it comes to new headlight technology, but are very much outdated to the point of holding back modern lighting technologies from becoming available to motorists in the U.S.
First, let’s review what the FMVSS is limiting automakers to doing in the United States. The state of the art of U.S. motor vehicle standards culminates in automatic high-beam headlights, which automatically turn on the high beams, and then automatically turn them off when an oncoming vehicle is detected, only turning them back on when that vehicle has gone outside the lit area. General Motors offers this technology under the IntelliBeam brand.
By comparison, automakers in Europe and Canada can equip their vehicles with a newer and more effective technology called Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB) headlights. ADB is a progression of automatic high-beam headlights, but works in a completely different way. Instead, ADB headlights keep a vehicle’s high beams turned on all the time. When an oncoming vehicle is detected, the system shades the appropriate area of the headlight to prevent glare that could interfere with the vision of the other driver. It’s the best of both worlds, delivering increased illumination at night without interfering with the oncoming driver.
The lack of progress in updating the FMVSS has rallied some organizations such as Toyota and AAA to petition the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to change the standards to allow vehicles with ADB headlights to be sold in the U.S.
While Toyota and AAA have petitioned the NHSTA to update the FMVSS for better headlights, any changes could still be years away. Better headlights and new technologies are essential to vehicle safety, and this most certainly should be a priority for both the NHSTA and automakers. General Motors has submitted comments to the NHSTA in support of changing the FMVSS, which you can read here.
Source: Ford Authority