Not all headlights are created equal – not by a long shot. And many of them are doing a pretty poor job in the performance department. That’s according to new ratings out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Its researchers recently tested vehicle headlights for the first time. The insurance group started with midsize cars to see how well their headlights illuminate the road and whether they create excessive glare for oncoming vehicles.
Researchers say while all models tested currently meet government standards, most of the cars tested ranked as marginal or poor.
In fact, only one out of more than 30 models tested received a good rating and that honor goes to the Toyota Prius v when equipped with optional LED headlights. Eleven vehicles earned an acceptable rating, nine were rated marginal and 10 were poor.
The ratings also shine the light on the fact that more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. Many of the poor-rated headlights belong to luxury vehicles.
“If you’re having trouble seeing behind the wheel at night, it could very well be your headlights and not your eyes that are to blame,” says David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer.
Currently, the IIHS says government standards for headlights vary widely. For its part, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says it’s already on it. The agency is proposing incentives to automakers to improve headlight safety as part of its revamp of the government’s 5-Star Safety Rating System.
The NHTSA told CBS News: “NHTSA is committed to promoting a higher standard of safety, including in headlighting systems. That’s why our planned revamp of the 5-Star Safety Ratings published in December included incentivizing better headlamp performance. Both Secretary Foxx and Administrator Rosekind have spoken out about the need to identify and remove potential regulatory hurdles to safety improvements. To that end, the agency has conducted research on adaptive headlighting and is moving to take actions to permit this innovative safety technology.”
For more specifics on the tests, head to the IIHS website.