Can’t see? How NJ should address blinding LED headlights
It's no surprise that automakers are trying to move toward more energy-efficient vehicles. Especially with how the cost of gas has been going up over the years, it's a no-brainer to try and do anything we can to help make our vehicles greener.
Not just with fuel, but with electricity as well. In fact, less reliance on electricity also helps your car be more energy-efficient.
This is one reason why automakers have shifted from using older halogen and incandescent lightbulbs to more efficient LED ones. Not only do they use a lot less energy, but they also operate at much cooler temperatures.
Another perk to LED lighting is the longevity they have, way outlasting their older counterparts. So it only makes sense that we continue to develop this technology for our vehicles.
There are, however, drawbacks to such technology. Well OK, maybe not a drawback, but certainly something we need to continue to fine-tune.
One of those things has to do with the color and brightness of these new LED headlights. While it's great that they're ultra-bright for the driver of the vehicle, it creates a more hazardous situation for other drivers.
At least two factors are at play here, both of which contribute to this blinding issue.
The first problem has to do with the color of the lights. As drivers have clearly noticed, they have more of a bluish/whitish tint to them as opposed to the yellowish tint of older bulbs.
That blueish/whitish shade can definitely affect one's ability to see at night when that light is coming toward them, or from behind.
The other problem is the more obvious one... the brightness. Those newer LED headlights on vehicles are definitely brighter than the older halogen ones, which also contributes to their blinding effect.
And this issue isn't necessarily with high beams. In fact, most of these headlights are blinding even with the regular low-beam lights on.
Unfortunately, there may not be much the owner of the vehicle can do about it. The cars come made this way and the driver is just using the tools they were provided.
So what can New Jersey do about this? How can the state hold automakers accountable to ensure headlamps aren't blinding other drivers?
This very question was brought up in a recent online thread. The person who posted about it almost got into an accident because they couldn't see clearly because of LED headlights blinding them.
One commenter suggested that our inspection stations go back to checking our headlights. Not a bad idea, especially considering New Jersey used to have a full safety inspection along with emissions.
Maybe if we checked headlamp angles and appropriate brightness, it could help fix some of the issues drivers deal with on the road from being blinded by those lights.
And in turn, the auto dealer would have to make the adjustment free of charge. That, of course, depends if the vehicle was just purchased or is leased.
But bringing that one safety check back to inspections might be something the state should consider. Outside of these ultra-bright LED headlights, many of our older vehicles in the state are also off with their headlamp angles.
It's not just vehicles coming toward you that can be problematic. Those coming behind can also make it hard to see with the reflection in the rearview and side mirrors.
Yes, this might not be a popular way to address those obnoxiously bright LED headlights, but we should at least get the conversation going with some sort of solution.
We all know they're not going away, so what would we do? How do we fix this blinding issue caused by LED headlights?
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.