This year’s DVN workshops in America and Japan got us off to a great start towards improved cooperation among GTB, NHTSA, and Japanese and Chinese regulation authorities. But there’s an aspect of lighting regulation and international cooperation that demands our urgent action, and so far we aren’t paying much attention. This week, DVN General Editor Daniel Stern gets started taking a look at the roadworthiness and inspection rules that apply to lights on vehicles in use. These are distinct from the international UN (or separate USA) regulations that govern the design, construction, and performance of lighting and light-signalling equipment for original or new installation. Once a vehicle is registered and on the road, the international or US regulations cease to apply; adjustment and maintenance of lighting devices is thenceforth subject to rules put out by the state, province, territory, or country in which the vehicle is registered.
Though the particulars differ from region to region, there’s an ugly common thread: a great many of those rules are so badly out of date and out of touch with the state of technology that they are severely sabotaging the safety performance designed into the lamps and assumed by everyone from regulators to researchers. What is more, the rules—especially in North American states and provinces—are blocking the widespread adoption of lifesaving new lighting technology like glare-free high beam.
The recent information presented by Rainer Neumann at the DVN Tokyo workshop, about the parameters which influence discomfort glare, adds to the mountain of evidence supporting the basic premises our community operates with: a certain amount of light at a certain distance is needed for safe seeing, and glare must be controlled to a certain level to avoid spoiling other drivers’ ability to see. Our onrunning discussions about the influence of Xenon, LED, halogen or the 2,000-lumen threshold for glare-control measures have not taken adequate account of outdated roadworthiness standards that must urgently be updated and corrected. It will call for coordinated effort from our community to educate national and regional regulators. We’re getting better at educating car buyers as to why they should buy good lights, now we must apply some of that effort towards the development of realistic vehicle-in-use lighting laws.
DVN Editor in Chief