Curious About Intensity Of Headlights

BOSTON (CBS) — Driving down the road at night some headlights are so bright it’s hard to see anything else. They’re an intense white and sometimes blue.

Beth from South Easton Declared her Curiosity about these headlights writing, “It seems the lights are bright blue with nearly a high beam range. They’re blinding.”

Rick from Salem added, “They literally blind drivers and are very dangerous. How can they be legal?”

The lights are HIDs, or high intensity discharge lights. They’re made with xenon. Traditional headlights are made with halogen bulbs.

And it’s true, the new lights are brighter.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports.

Doctors say they get frequent complaints about these lights from people saying they squint because of them, or have problems with glare.

“We have had more and more complaints from patients saying that those blue headlights that I see on the road are very uncomfortable and I really wish they weren’t around,” said Dr. Matthew Gardiner of Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary.

But the intensity may not be the only problem. How they’re installed may be an issue, too.

“The European requirement has an automatic adjustment feature. Essentially what happens is it just levels the headlight out, regardless of the inclination of the vehicle,” explains Sean Kane of Safety Research and Strategies.

He goes on to say that in the U.S. the light may end up aiming too high. Kane says even if you put a lot of people in the backseat that might change the angle at which the headlights shine.

Another problem is that drivers are going to auto repair stores and installing new lights themselves — or going online and getting replacement bulbs which don’t meet federal standards.

Soon more cars will have LED lights which also give off a very bright white light. They’re already in hybrid and electric cars.

More from Declare Your Curiosity
Comments

One Comment

  1. Cynic says:

    Wasn’t this on a few weeks ago?

  2. Will says:

    I have these super bright lights in my car. In fact I installed them and got the brightest ones I could. Not to be cool but for safety I want to see everything on the road and everyone to see me. Last thing I want to do Is hit a someone or something!

    1. mp says:

      Too bad someone may hit YOU from being blinded by your brightest light you could get.

    2. geebee says:

      when you blind another driver how safe are you?

    3. blackbear1 says:

      Will, you mean you can’t see w/o these super bright lights?? Something wrong w/your eyes?? Nice of you to be thinking of others!! Thanks!!

    4. S.A. says:

      back in the day when the Federal Gov. got involved in regulating vehicle… they had a group of engineers and others to come up with some standards. Even back then they had the ability to make super bright lights but did not allow them in vehicles because it blinded oncomming motorists. The legal standard is 55 watts low beam and 65 watts high beam. Yes they could have allowed brighter but did not for safety. Remember to dim high beams for approaching vehicles or when following another vehicle.. ??? I am irked that the after market parts stores are allowed to sell the 80/100 watt light bulbs– they blind me and I could hit someone crossing the street– Heave you ever noticed that all the tail lights on vehicle are the same color and tone of red — WHY , and why may red only face to the rear, amber any direction and white only forwards execpt for backup lights and plate light. — ??? same as boats red on right green on left— so you cant determine the direction the other is traveling. Those involved in setting the standards did not set them arbitrarily.. SAME goes for NOISE — to loud and it is DISRESPECTFUL to others, may drown out a vocal warning — when do your rights superceed anothers rights
      IT ALL COMES DOWN TO ME FIRST–RATHERS IT SHOULD BE ME LAST and respect others

    5. AMI says:

      How inconsiderate. If you need lights that bright to drive then you shouldn’t be driving. Maybe you’ll think differently when a driver you blind hits you.

  3. mrlemonjello says:

    Most cars in Europe have a manual adjustment for the headlight aim (usually used for trailer towing). It is up to the driver to adjust the aim; it is generally only automatic in luxury cars. However, headlight cleaning systems are required on the Euro cars with HIDs and not in American cars with them. Dirty headlights make more of a difference than the upward aim of the light.
    There are a few American HID equipped cars with a manual adjustment (Mazdas and Subarus). This is a carryover from the Euro models.
    I also want to mention that the DOT is beyond inept at creating regulations for lighting. Garbage sealed-beam headlights that persisted well into the 1990s, red turn signals (orange is much easier to distinguish from brake lamps) and a lack of side lighting are all exclusive to the American market.

  4. emom says:

    Oh look at the pretty lights,, they twinkle so bright ,, oh they are moving, closer, aaaahhhhhhhhh ,, the deer in the headlight look…. so blinded you just cant see beyond them.. BAN THEM before it causes major blindness while driving

  5. ZERO says:

    THE NEW CAR HEADLIGHTS HAVE A BLIND SPOT YOU CAN NOT SEE THE SHOULDERS OF THE ROAD. ALSO, THEY SHINE ON THE PAVEMENT, NOT ON THE ROAD. THE NEWER CAR HEADLIGHTS CAN GET SOMEONE KILLED THEY LIMIT YOUR VIEWING AREA. THE SYLVANIA SILVERSTAR COMMERCIAL WILL SHOW YOU ALL WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE A GOOD HEADLIGHTS WHEN DRIVING!!! HOPEFULLY THEY WILL START TO DESIGN A NICE LOOKING CAR WITH GOOD HEADLIGHTS??? THEY LOOK ALL ALIKE???

  6. Rich Dunn says:

    I just watched your article.  I can’t disagree with the safety concerns surrounding HID Headlights; specifically if you address two specific points.

    1. Any headlight that is improperly adjusted is dangerous.  We’ve all been there, i see dozens of examples daily in short my 8 mile commute.
    2. Any headlights that are not within the legal limitations for both color and intensity are illegal and dangerous.  Anyone with internet access can order headlights that are not “Street Legal” and install them in minutes.

    If any vehicles headlights are aimed correctly and are within the “street legal limitations” there is not a safety issue, regardless of type; HID or Halogen headlights.

    If any headlight is properly adjusted and within the legal limits there is not an issues.  The new HID headlights are actually safer simply because you can see better!

    The true problem is improperly adjusted and illegal HID headlights.  In either case both scenarios can blind both on coming drivers and pedestrians.

    Thank you for the coverage, this is a public safety issue.

  7. Jim from Hudson, NH says:

    It’s about time this subject made the news. I think what is needed is a LOW BEAM LAW. ALL vehicles should have the same intensity and AIM for their low beam headlights. The oncoming OVER brightness can cause accidents. This “LAW” should include the use of ADDITIONAL “Driving” and other “Acessory” lights on the front of ALL vehicles, except for the use of AMBER fog lights. Please, WE the PEOPLE can make it happen.

  8. WEG says:

    An idea not original with me –

    Many years ago someone proposed that all automobile head lights and windshields should be polarized to the same 45 degree angle. With this arrangement, each driver would be able to see whatever was lit by his/her own headlights; but the polarized light from oncoming cars would be orthogonal to the polarization of one’s own windshield and thus would be considerably suppressed, and therefore would be far less likely to blind. With the advent of very bright and often poorly aimed headlights, perhaps it’s time to trot this idea out again. I hope you can do something constructive with the idea.

    My $0.02, FWIW.

  9. jim, quincy says:

    It’s not just the new, bright bulbs that are responsible for this problem.
    1) More and more people who have standard headlights seem to be driving around with their bright beams on
    2) There is a discrepancy in eye level between lower riding vehicles and larger ones such as suv’s and minivans. I drove an Acura Integra which sits fairly low for years and headlights from other vehicles were a big problem. I’m now driving a Scion XB which is like a small SUV so I’m sitting higher now and headlights are not as much of a problem
    3) All of this is compounded by the fact that a lot of us are getting older and it is more difficult for our eyes to adjust after exposure to these bright lights.

    I would also like to point out to those who feel they need these bright lights for safety that for the most part in urban areas the roads are quite well lit and all that extra light from their headlights is doing nothing for them.

  10. Kraven says:

    I agree they are too bright and blinding! Too make matters worse many people drive with their fog lights on all the time, some of which are also zenon.Driving with fog lights on is illegal and subject to a fine unless in inclement weather.

  11. Cynic says:

    Operating with a Blue light facing forward is illegal in Mass. unless its on a Police Car.

  12. Brad says:

    It will take years of debate before the blue tinted lights are proven to do more harm than good. And,as usual you have the yahoos out there who have to have the brightest lights. I’d like some cops to weigh in on the subject….those working the night shift have to deal with the blindness more than anyone.

    1. Cynic says:

      I would book them then let the Court decide whether they are legal or not.

  13. StanleyRamon says:

    Simply put, lights that are not adjusted properly or not legal should not pass inspection. I guess that different states may not have the same inspection requirements that Mass. does, but they can still be pulled over and fined while driving on our roads. This is another example of having laws in place that are not enforced.

  14. dern h bayer says:

    Just include proper lighting, to include aim, color and brightness, in every state’s vehicle state inspection.

    Problem solved!

    I do miss the German state inspection, in this regard.

  15. Bob Astrella says:

    My car came with these lights and I didn’t even realize the issue with them until I was following my daughter one night. She said she would never drive in front of me again. I’m thinking of replacing them with standard bulbs.

  16. mechanic from maine says:

    Vehicle inspection requirements include a specific section for headlight adjustment. Dirty or scratched lenses over the headlights cause excessive glare and there is also an inspection requirement for that. Unfortuantely police are not equipped to, nor tasked with enforcing poorly written laws enacted by uninformed legislators (both national and local) who believe that brighter is better. There is no easy answer, though as a driver you can request your mechanic to assure your lights are properly adjusted, make sure your lenses are clean and keep your windshield clean to reduce glare.

  17. jvn says:

    thank you for this report. Not only are the halogen lights blinding, but could we also ask drivers to use their fog lights properly? They are to be used in fog conditions only and similar to high beams…..do not use them with oncoming traffic.

  18. John says:

    Some of you really have no clue about these headlights. The majority of “blinding” lights dont have to do with light intensity. It has to do with aim and application. HID’s were only made for projectors and people are installing them in older reflector style headlamps which scatters the beam. The other is people not knowing how to properly aim their headlights. The answer isnt to blame the lights but the owners. HIDs are extremely safe or they wouldnt be legal. Also, if you are blinded by fog lights you must be directly on the pavement. For a fog light to hit your eyes it would need to be aimed up and would be utterly useless.

  19. AL says:

    THE PROBLEM ISN’T WITH THE EXTRA BRIGHT LIGHTS. iT’S WITH THE DRIVERS THAT USE THEM. YOU PEOPLE THAT HAVE THESE LIGHTS ARE STILL USING HIGH BEAMS, THEREFORE BLINDING THE DRIVER IN FRONT OF YOU OR THE DRIVER THAT IS ON COMMING TO YOU. iF YOU USE LOW BEAMS THEN THE BRIGHT PROBLEM WON’T BE AN ISSUE. iF YOU BOUGHT THE LIGHTS FOR SAFETY LIKE WILL SAYS HE DID, THEN YOU DON’T NEED HIGH BEAM. SO STOP USING HIGH BEAMS AND THE PROBLEM ABOUT THE BRIGHT LIGHTS SHOULD GO AWAY, AND FOR THOSE PEOPLE THAT HAVE REGULAR LIGHTS? STOP USING HIGH BEAMS ALSO. iF YOU CAN’T SEE THE VEHICLE THAT IS 20 FEET OR CLOSER IN FRONT OF YOU WITH LOW BEAM? THEN YOU ARE EITHER BLIND OR JUST PLAIN ARROGANT.

  20. DStein says:

    Wow, what a lot of whining. I drive over 30K miles a year, spending a lot of time on the road at night. Having the best lighting at night is definitely important to safety. When properly installed and aimed, they really don’t bother me at all. It’s the knuckleheads that install aftermarket HID kits and don’t aim them properly that usually blind people. Just like any other headlight that isn’t aimed properly.

    1. AMI says:

      are you wearing sunglasses, have a giant truck hovering over everyone or do you drive in areas with sufficient street lighting? I drive on rt 8 in CT where there is no lighting, so the extreme contrast of these completely unnecessary lights blinds me. From reading these comments, it looks like you are greatly out numbered.

  21. 1stackmack says:

    its a little less safe with the hid lights,i thick.look at the pro truck driver at night.if i’m in a parking lot or getting loaded at night. i turn the head lights off,but leave the running lights on.so not to blind anyone around the front of the truck.its just a common sence fo us.look at some trucks there set up to look like a christmas tree with all the chicken lights {slang for show truck lights]..

  22. Wayne says:

    I sell these for a living

    If interested email me Discounthids@gmail.com

    80$ for a full Kits 150$ for bi-xenon with 2 year warranty!

  23. adrian says:

    i cant see any difference in fog lights, blue lights ,high beams, or all the flashing lights you see on roadworks and mobile cranes etc.they are all dangerous. and if peoples eyes are so bad they cant see a garbage truck without a flashing light then they shouldnt be driving.

  24. delilah says:

    well, these lights, especially the blue ones,send pains through my head like a migraine attack. I can see where they may be the cause of road rage. I am a courteous driver, but these lights just infuriate me.

  25. rob says:

    This seems like a ongoing issue – a little common repect for others would go a long way
    Also I would recommend that people check to see that thier light are on in the early morning and late afternoon low light time frames

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