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Dazzling Headlights Getting Worse – RAC survey

The RAC is calling on the Government to run an independent study into the issue of headlight glare, after a survey in November 2023 found that 85% of drivers affected said they thought the problem was getting worse.

The survey of 2000 drivers, commissioned by the RAC, found that 89% stated that some car headlights are too bright, with three in four of those they were dazzled regularly. More than two-thirds said they had to slow down until they could see clearly again. About the same proportion (68%) said it took between one and five seconds before their sight recovered, while more one in ten said it took six or more, quite sobering when you think how far a 60mph car will travel in six seconds.

So if this perception is accurate – that headlight glare getting worse, then what’s causing it? A likely reason is the increasing use of LED and laser headlights in cars and bikes, with a much more intense beam than conventional halogen lights. The RAC adds that the growing popularity of SUVs, taller on the road with higher-mounted lights, could also be an issue.

Whatever the cause, headlight glare is clearly an issue for motorcyclists in particular, particularly in the wet when looking through a visor. Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, backed the call for an official study of ultra-bright headlights. “I commented on this last week, with the introduction of laser lights on bikes. I haven’t met a rider who doesn’t think that overly bright headlights, combined with poor alignment, especially on SUVs, isn’t a problem at night, compounded by poor weather. It reminds me of the days before anti-scratch coated visors, back in the 1970s, when every night was ‘starburst’ night. I particularly worry about the future, when street lighting may be reduced further because vehicle lights are so much ‘better’. To be honest, what we need isn’t more research, its action that we need. ”

Written by Peter Henshaw

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