ORLANDO, Fla. (June 26, 2015) — New test results from AAA reveal the potential for significant headlight shortcomings when traveling on roadways that lack overhead lighting.
Those are typically America's rural roads, which account for 40 percent of vehicle miles traveled annually, according to the motorists association.
To assess headlight capabilities and limitations and learn what, if any, advantage advanced headlight technologies offer, Orlando-based AAA compared the performance of halogen, high intensity discharge (HID) and light emitting diode (LED) headlights. The organization said its test results suggest that halogen headlights — found in more than 80 percent of vehicles on the road today — may fail to safely illuminate unlit roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph.
The testing, conducted with the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center, measured the distances at which modern headlights illuminate non-reflective objects on both low-beam and high-beam settings. These findings, paired with guidelines issued by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, indicate that when traveling on unlit roadways, headlights on today's vehicles fail to light the full distance necessary for a driver to detect an object or obstacle in the roadway, react and come to a complete stop.
“AAA's test results reveal that headlights found in U.S. vehicles fall short on safety,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center. “By failing to properly light roadways at moderate speeds, a pedestrian or animal may not become visible to a driver until it's too late to stop.”