At ISAL last week, there was a very interesting panel discussion led by Audi’s Michael Hamm about the new ADB regulation and test protocol in the United States. This discussion came on the same day after Wolfgang Huhn suggested, in his keynote, that ADB ought to be mandatory to improve safety at night—not the first time this idea has come up; DVN has suggested this in past newsletters and reports.
The discussion panel comprised GM’s Michael Larsen; Volvo’s Paul-Henri Matha; Stellantis’ Thomas Feid; DEKRA’s Wilfried Van Laarhoven, and Michael Hamm.
Larsen summarised: ADB is legal in the U.S., but only if it meets the unique requirements NHTSA have just written into FMVSS № 108. These include a “transition zone” of just one degree from a shadowed to an unshadowed region of the beam (attainable only by very expensive pixel/matrix ADB systems) as well as tests on a curve of 400 metres’ radius (difficult to manage and questionably relevant to any real-world issue). Even the old VHAD aiming system has been brough back from its well-deserved grave, yet another seemingly pointless divergence from the UN specification which has racked up millions of unproblematic kilometres and miles everywhere else in the world; see DVN’s analysis of the U.S. rule.
This discussion was surreal; ADB as specified by the UN Regulations is significantly improving night driving safety; it saves lives and reduces injury and property damage, all over the world, except in the United States. Nevertheless, NHTSA—nominally a safety authority—hinders it by putting out impractical, unrealistic rules. We’d like to believe NHTSA genuinely wants the best for U.S. traffic safety, but they surely seem to have ignored and rejected the world’s expertise on the subject, and automakers are unlikely to take a chance on offering ADB if they can’t be completely certain their system is compliant with NHTSA’s 300-page rule.
The whole lighting community, all around the world, will have to continue working together to find a way forward towards mandatory ADB—ideally with a single, global specification—rather than this pathetic situation of nominally-allowed, practically-prohibited ADB in the States.
A report summarizing the conferences presented at ISAL, is published today.