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Facing Up to Difficult Realities

The latest round of headlight tests are in from IIHS, and—again—the results are dismal. Most tested vehicles got a "poor" rating, a few got "acceptable", and none got ratings any better than that. This isn't really a new phenomenon, it's a tough new test finally quantifying the old, old problem of headlighting: how to light the driver's way adequately and effectively without unsafe glare to other drivers. Of course it's no fun to see our efforts branded a failure, but that's not the only way to look at test results like this. With some thoughtful perspective, we can probably use the test results and their implications as a very effective lever to achieve an important goal in the ongoing vehicle lighting revolution, that is the widespread adoption of lights smarter than high beam/low beam.

Of course, it's also possible to go the other direction and come up with tests that give a good grade to existing lamps. That would certainly be easier and less expensive for the industry, but aside from that, is it a defensible thing to do? Is it a moral thing to do?

This week we take a detailed look at the latest IIHS results and some counterproposals to NHTSA's proposed lighting-related upgrades to the US NCAP. These are important discussions, and now is the right time to be having them. Please join in and speak up! Send your comments to us. Send your comments to NHTSA. We've got the expertise to make a substantial, significant improvement in traffic safety, and now we've got the technology, too. What'll it be? A repeat of the failure to get HID headlamps widely installed? Or something better...? To a large degree, that decision is in our hands.

Sincerely yours

Daniel Stern
DVN General Editor

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13-14 October, 2016

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10-11 January, 2017


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