Government review to tackle over-bright headlights

File photo dated 15/02/07 of cars on the motorway, as an RAC survey has shown that drivers are being temporarily blinded by modern vehicle headlights.

We've all been there – blinded on a dark road by an oncoming car which seemingly contains industrial grade floodlights instead of headlamps. But dangerously bright headlights could soon be restricted, as a United Nations Working Party looks into the issue of headlamp glare.

The working party, of which the UK is a member, will evaluate maximum beam brightness and alter regulations if headlamps are still found to give dangerous levels of glare.

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The move comes after an RAC survey found 65 per cent of drivers said they regularly get dazzled by the lights of oncoming cars, with the majority saying it can take up to five seconds for their sight to return to normal. If travelling at 60mph, that means 134 metres of driving with reduced vision.

The survey also found that 15 per cent of drivers say they've suffered a near miss on the roads after being dazzled by modern lights.

All headlights sold on cars in the UK must conform to EU standards, which themselves are set in line with the United Nations' World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations.

However, rapid advances in car headlights – from halogen projector beams, to xenon HID, and finally to the most recent LED technology – have increased the brightness and whiteness of car headlights. It's already illegal to retrofit an older car with high intensity discharge (HID) headlights unless it was originally designed for them, as these bright beams can easily blind other drivers.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: "The intensity and brightness of some new car headlights is clearly causing difficulty for other road users. Headlight technology has advanced considerably in recent years, but while that may be better for the drivers of those particular vehicles, it is presenting an unwanted, new road safety risk for anyone driving towards them or even trying to pull out at a junction.

"We look forward to seeing the progress of the United Nations' vehicle lighting working group in April."

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