The move to LEDs and even lasers has seen car headlights illuminate the road ahead better than ever before, helping to identify potential hazards at night. But are dazzlingly bright lights a danger to other road users?
Like all areas of car technology, headlights have come a long way over the past couple of decades. Traditional light bulbs are giving way to LEDs, which shouldn’t need replacing and give car designers the freedom to create striking designs without being limited by boxy headlamps.
And if you’ve ever had the misfortune of having a large SUV bearing down on you at night or had a car crest a hill in front of you, you’ll know modern car lights are also getting a lot brighter.
Audi and BMW’s laser lights
Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of luxury German cars, where seemingly a game of headlight one-upmanship has led to both Audi and BMW deploying full laser headlights on their most rarefied models.
The claim is that they light up the road with bright white light at distances other headlights simply can’t reach. Their illumination is typically controlled by the on-board computer, with full retina-searing mode used only when it detects no other cars in front of you.
More tech, more problems
This type of ‘auto high-beam’ tech isn’t new and usually does a good job dimming the headlights when it detects those of oncoming cars, but it’s not so good for pedestrians, who don’t tend to have their own headlights. And the effect can be blinding.
What’s more, as we know, tech has a propensity to fail as a car ages. How many times have you felt a mis-aligned Xenon headlight piercing into your soul as you pass an oncoming car? In some cases, it’ll simply be due to the car’s self-leveling system failing.
As you might expect, this constitutes an MOT failure, often requiring an expensive replacement. We shudder to think what the cost of replacing a set of laser lights would be.
Have you been dazzled by oncoming headlights or experienced expensive repairs to your car’s high-end lights? Or is this a small price to pay for having a brighter view of the road ahead? Have your say below.