A blinding glare from the oncoming traffic is to blame for many safety concerns and health issues. It causes accidents on the roads, and it slowly but steadily robs drivers of their sight. And since the number of LED headlights is likely to only go up in the nearest future, you should learn how to use them responsibly and how to protect your eyes. If you don’t want to be that driver with obnoxiously bright headlights, you need to learn more about the crucial specifications of LED headlight bulbs like color temperature, alignment and density.
Anybody who had to drive at night at least once does not need scientific proof or multiple survey results to know how irritating the glare can be. And the drivers mostly put the blame on the LED headlights. Their two major selling points are brightness and efficiency. Which are both great values, but you simply cannot have too much of a good thing. So even though blindingly bright LED headlights are able to illuminate the road better and further, they still cause more harm than good.
How to Avoid Blinding the Oncoming Traffic
When choosing LED headlight bulbs, it’s important to make sure you’re not accidentally blinding other drivers on the road. To avoid this, make sure to choose bulbs with the right color temperature – between 3000K and 6000K is generally considered safe. Also, look for bulbs with a beam pattern that focuses the light ahead of your car, not directly into oncoming traffic. Brightness is another factor to consider – you want enough light for yourself, but not so much that it’s distracting to other drivers. To help reduce glare even further, look for LED bulbs with anti-flicker technology built-in. Just remember to check with your local laws and regulations, as some aftermarket LED bulbs may not be legal in all areas.
How to Avoid Getting Blinded All the Time
It’s important to be proactive and take steps to reduce the risk of being blinded by oncoming and following traffic, especially when driving at night. Here are some tips to avoid getting blinded by oncoming and following traffic:
Adjust your mirrors: Make sure your side mirrors and rearview mirror are adjusted to minimize the amount of direct light that enters your eyes.
Avoid looking directly at headlights. It’s always a good idea to avoid looking directly at headlights, as this can cause temporary blindness and affect your ability to see the road ahead.
Keeping your windshield clean is important for a number of reasons. Not only does it help you maintain better visibility, but dirt and debris can actually refract the light from the sun which further impairs your vision.
Before setting off on a nighttime drive, it’s important to take a break and give your eyes some time to rest. Prolonged exposure to bright screens, like those of phones, tablets and computers can make your eyes tired, leading to reduced contrast sensitivity and impaired vision. Taking a short break for at least 10 minutes will help restore contrast sensitivity so you can see better in the dark. Along with getting enough sleep during the day, taking breaks for your eyes helps keep them ready for any nighttime driving you may need to do.
Try blue light blocking glasses to improve your night vision. They will filter out the worst part of the light from highbeams. The blue light is the worst kind for human eyes.
The Dark Side of the LED Brightness Obsession
When the LED headlights trend really started to gain traction in the automotive industry, the issues with glare became painfully evident. According to the surveys carried out by the NHTSA about 30% of the respondents reported that they find glare during nighttime disturbing. This means it was distracting and uncomfortable. And this survey was published in 2004, when the LED lights were less common than they are now.
Visibility is one of the biggest road safety concerns for a good reason. Bad weather conditions and lowering visibility at nighttime often cause serious accidents. It is only natural for the car manufacturers to respond to the demand in improved visibility and safety and deliver better headlight options. Back in the day of the survey, the LED headlights were just that, LED bulbs fitted into fixtures inside a headlight assembly. They generated bright and consistent light beams, outshining the conventional halogen bulbs.
And that innovation fixed one problem, but immediately created another one. The light produced by halogen bulbs is less bright, but it is gentler to the human eye than crisp white light of the LEDs. The only ways for the driver to avoid blinding people who drive past was to switch between high and low beams in time and by aligning the bulbs in a way that helps illuminate the road but not reach the eye level of other drivers.
The issue with this is that bulb alignment is a sensitive thing, you need to do it right. Otherwise, your headlights’ performance will drop or start blinding you instead when there are puddles or ice on the road. And switching between the beams can just slip your mind after a busy day at work or a long trip.
Introduction of Smart Headlights
When manufacturers have far surpassed the legal limits of brightness for headlight brightness, they turned their attention to making them smarter. Unfortunately, the law prohibited the use of smart headlight technology in the US for quite some time, only making it road legal last February. Among other features that are meant to make the driving experience safer and more comfortable, they also try to provide a solution to the glare issue.
Smart headlights usually use matrix technology or rely on light sensors and tiny drivers. Matrix technology is simply impossible without the LEDs. Their unique properties like massive light output and versatile shape allow them to be set in light matrixes, hence the name. When the sensors inside pick light from the oncoming traffic, they turn off certain parts of the headlight to let the car pass between the now separate beams without glaring in the driver’s eyes.
Drivers are simpler, they get signals from the light sensors and alter the position of the LED bulb to lower the beam temporarily or to push it away from the other side of the road and closer to the front. This construction also makes them easier to repair or replace an outdated bulb if there is a need.
Maintenance cost and the market price are the main drawbacks. Even though the law now approves of the smart headlights, they are not going to flood the roads immediately. At least not until the next cutting-edge technology arrives and they become less innovative and more affordable. In the meantime, use our brief guides to deal with bright LED headlights we all love and hate.