Safety study gives headlights on most cars dim ratings

Many headlights could raise risk of serious crash

DETROIT – A new study discovered some troubling trends involving the headlights on cars. An overwhelming number of headlights are considered dangerous, and having them in your car could raise the risk of being involved in a serious crash.

Headlight safety has been tested since 2016, and that year, only two of 96 vehicles got the highest safety rating. Today, 67 percent of the headlights tested got a poor rating.

Across the country, more than half of all car crash fatalities occur at night, and almost 25 percent occur on unlit roads. Now, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is revisiting what is believed to be a major source of the problem.

"About half of the models we tested don't have adequate headlights that provide enough visibility for the driver," said David Aylor, manager of active safety testing at the IIHS.

According to the report, the difference between headlights rated "good" and "poor" can mean life or death.

During testing, at 65 mph, good headlights show pedestrians at 140 feet and deer at 220 feet. In contrast, with poor headlights, drivers would have to be going 40 mph or slower to have enough time to avoid a crash.

Headlights are obviously a key factor in avoiding nighttime crashes, but safety is not standard. Headlights that received a good rating are not required by law and are often only available when bundled into luxury packages that can raise prices by thousands of dollars.

"Consumers shouldn't have to buy a fully loaded vehicle to get the headlights they need to safely drive at night," Aylor said. "All new vehicles should come with good headlights."

Of the 424 headlight versions tested by the IIHS, 67 percent earned a "marginal" or "poor" rating, and only the Genesis G90 and the Lexus NX are available with "good"-rated headlights across all models.

Many headlights produced excessive low-beam glare and poor visibility. Many of them are offered on base models, a practice that punishes buyers who opt for value-based trims.

Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus offer the most vehicles with either "good" or "acceptable" headlight ratings, and popular vehicles such as the new Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet Silverado only offer "poor" headlights.

Chevrolet and Ford declined to comment on the results.

Click here to view the full report and check how your headlights were rated.

Click here for more on the evaluation.

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