Autoblog readers condemn dangerous HID headlights


An Autoblog poll has revealed an incredible 90 per cent of motorists think xenon headlights are dangerous.

We ran the survey alongside our story (Headlight fight hots up in the war on the bobby dazzlers) which reported on the growing campaign that wants super-bright headlights banned.

The 'Lightmare' campaign has received the backing of the Drivers Instructors Association, as well as other prominent motoring groups, and is spearheaded by night-time London cabbie Ken Perham.

He says the results of our poll confirm motorists think these headlights are a major problem on our roads and says it has added significant weight to his campaign.

Some 13,268 votes were cast in our survey with 11,884 users agreeing with Perham that HID headlights are dangerous. Only 1,257 people said they weren't (nine per cent) and 127 people didn't know (one per cent).

'The proposed changes, if implemented, would reduce accidents, save a few lives and make driving more pleasant for all of us,' he said.

Perham says xenon headlights and daytime running lights make motorcyclists and cyclists less visible. He wants changes to be made to the MOT so misaligned headlights are spotted and rules that make daytime running lights compulsory on all new European cars to be revoked.

He added: 'Your poll confirms that something serious needs to be done about this issue for our safety because anger from being dazzled by selfish drivers is reaching epidemic levels.'

Other motoring organisations were shocked by the results too. 'It's not often you get such a clear cut result in market research so there is clearly something going on here,' said Neil Grieg of the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

'Technically these lights are supposed to help road safety by providing a light that is closer to daylight. There may be an element of car envy going on here as these lights are often on top end models. Many are also illegally and badly fitted DIY set ups that are best dealt with by enforcement.'

Clare Armstrong, co-founder of Safe Speed, believes more research is needed to investigate the 'potential dangers' of these lights.

'This clearly shows people recognise the dangers that can be caused by this type of lighting system,' she told Autoblog.

'These lights can cause people and bikes to be hidden, cause distraction and temporary blindness, and is not a step towards road safety. We thoroughly disapprove of their use.'

But Andrew Howard, The AA's head of road safety, said users may have confused 'dangerous' with 'not liking'.

'I think we can say that drivers don't like high intensity lights, and some don't like daytime running lights, but it is much harder to say they are dangerous,' he explained.

'Anti dazzle campaigns have run for about as long as there have been road safety campaigns. We tend to forget that mandatory or advisory use of lights in daytime is not a new thing. It has been going on for years in other countries. Yet they don't seem to report problems.

'There are many things that drivers don't like - seat belts, road humps and mini roundabouts sit very high on the list. Yet they aren't dangerous. And "not liking" is always relative.'

However Perham told us our poll has spurred him on to take his fight to the very top and added he'll continue to badger manufacturers into fitting more driver friendly daytime running light systems.