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What you need to know about IIHS headlight testing

What you need to know about IIHS headlight testing

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If you’re a regular reader of auto websites, you will likely have seen a few headlines around IIHS headlight testing recently. So what’s the fuss about? What are the tests and what does it mean for you? Car Nation Canada are here to answer!

The U.S. IIHS grade all new cars to hit North America for safety. If you read yesterday’s post, you will know that they awarded the 2016 Kia Optima their Top Safety Pick Plus rating. This not only gives the automaker an idea of how they are doing in terms of safety, it also provides buyers with the information they need to make informed choices about their next new car.

IIHS headlight testing
As part of their ongoing programme of safety improvements, the IIHS are shaking up the way they test cars. They are introducing new tests to reflect the technology available to offer as clear a picture as possible about how safe a particular vehicle is. They are improving the New Car Assessment Program across the board for 2019. One of the new tests is for headlights.

Headlights have an obvious safety implication as they illuminate the road ahead when visibility is poor or when it is dark. The IIHS have caught up with this and have now begun testing new car headlights.

The lights are tested using specialist light measuring equipment on both low beam and high beam. The tests are carried out across five different scenarios, travelling straight, a sharp left curve, a sharp right curve, a gradual left curve and a gradual right curve. Glare from oncoming headlights is also tested to replicate real life driving.

The IIHS then assesses these findings and compare visibility and glare across new models. Points are awarded for how the headlights illuminate the road ahead and how much glare they present to oncoming traffic. Then the cars and their various light combinations are rated accordingly.

In total, 31 models were assessed with 82 headlight configurations. That included Xenon, LED and Halogen headlights, high and low bean, both adaptive lighting and non-adaptive. Details on the testing is available here.

The takeaway from all this is that headlight technology needs to catch up with other safety tech. Even the best driver in the world won’t avoid accidents if they can’t see properly at night. While we have been driving well enough until now, a relatively simple fix could enhance that for everyone. As the IIHS is now measuring headlight performance as part of it’s New Car Assessment Program, we think improvements will appear pretty quickly.

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