UK’s RAC Claims LED Headlights Dazzle Other Drivers, Labels Them A Safety Risk

The RAC automotive body out of the UK has warned that modern car headlights are too bright and, as a result, they are dazzling other drivers, which makes them a liability.

The Telegraph reports that 15 per cent of drivers have suffered a near-miss because of the brightness of some new car headlights. In response to an increasing number of complaints, the Department for Transport has established a United Nations working group to understand why car headlights have become too bright. LED lights are thought to be a cause.

Speaking about the potential issues caused by LED headlights, lighting expert from the Quality Light Source Factory, Stephen Dixon, asserts that motorists perceive LED lights as being brighter.

“LED light is more directional. Rather than being big spread of light which comes from a halogen bulb, LED light is more focused. It is also a traditionally brighter light which appears as blue white, hence why it appears brighter in the dark.”

The use of LED lights have been increasingly common in recent years, and they are tested to ensure they light up the road adequately while not dazzling oncoming drivers.

However, RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams asserts that they are a road safety risk.

“Headlight technology has advanced considerably in recent years, but while that may be better for the drivers of those particular vehicles, it is presenting an unwanted, new road safety risk for anyone driving towards them or even trying to pull out at a junction.”

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  • Harry Nimmergut

    I agree 1000%. They should be banned in the US as well. How they ever got approved in the first place…I’m even annoyed by some LED DRLs when the vehicle is tall and right behind me. The Honda Pilot comes to mind. Its LED DRLs are at the top of the lighting elements.

    I thought HIDs were bad; this is ridiculous!

    • Sybill Julian

      in Japan I didn’t see any LED DRLs turned on. Even newest BMW or Merc.

      • BGM

        And that’s the reason that makes me hate Jap brands so very much, starting with Toyota and Honda. In their home market they don’t have DRLs. Bring them to the US and now they have high beam DRLs. DRLs are the devil’s lights and the man who first had the idea surely will burn in hell.

    • Erzhik

      In other news, old man yells at a cloud.

    • S3XY

      Banned? You’re a fool.

    • Bill Nguyen

      The worst are Acuras and Audi’s IMO… Acuras have super powerful drl’s, can blind you even during the day! Audi’s are bad too, but not cuz they’re bright really. The problem is they seem to flicker on and off as they bounce up and down the road, so it looks like they’re constantly flashing their high beams at you. Really annoying.

  • Integrated Luncheonette

    I totally agree with this. My car has LED Headlights as standard and I constantly get flashed by other Drivers as they are so bright.

    • Vassilis

      What car? Also, are you sure they’re set correctly?

      • Integrated Luncheonette

        It’s a Suzuki Vitara. No manual adjustment, it’s automatic. The Garage say they are set correctly.

        • Vassilis

          I think even automatically-levelling headlights have a manual adjustment that sets the initial position. Then they level depending on how low the back of the car is. But obviously since you’ve checked them, that’s not the issue. Maybe the problem is with SUVs although to be honest I haven’t been dazzled by one.

          • RJ Scott

            I have automatic headlamp leveling in my Genesis Coupe and there is also a manual adjustment.

          • TrevP

            I don’t think our MKZ auto levels. I know our X3 does for sure and I know they are LED but I don’t now how they would be manually adjusted, or if you can even do that.

          • Vassilis

            Yeah, same in my car.

    • Sybill Julian

      most recent LED Headlights that too bright is Honda CRV Turbo. Even the foglamps are too bright at night. IMO

    • dufonrafal .

      Well, I never do, so there must be something wrong with them.

      As for what your mechanic say, I know a guy that bought a new car and complained that the headlight were set too low. His mechanic told him is fine and he can’t set them any higher or he will fail the inspection. An other mechanic told him the same.

      Well, he did fail the inspection… because the headlights were set too low!

      And I have seen other similar stories on forums.

  • Craig

    I actually lowered the beam of my HID’s in my car because I kept getting the old, ‘Your high beams are on”, flash. I can only imagine how bad LED’s must be.

    • Bash

      In my SRT charger, they are adjusted automatically, on a divided road or no one facing me, Its fine, but they is on board camera/sensor behind the rear view mirror that activate a mechanics to lower the HID once facing another car. Unless the other car driver is using his/her high beam.

      I would have imagined that you have the same system in your SRT 300C

      • Craig

        I’m very curious. [And a bit confused] I’ve never heard of an SRT Charger or 300 ever having auto-leveling headlights. My 2006 300C SRT8 certainly does not have them. And I’ve spent quite sometime Google searching anything that would say otherwise. Newer Durango’s are mentioned – but not Chargers. What year is your Charger? Are you sure you don’t mean ‘auto-DIMMING’ feature? As in – your car will go from high-beams to low-beams if IT sees a car coming?

        • Bash

          Mine is 2014 and yes Auto Dimming or auto on/off High-Low beam is something else I’m aware of. but -to my knowledge- it exists on pre-2014 models, maybe is trim related feature, or maybe they still referring to it as the auto dimming.

          • Craig

            What I did with my car was open the hood – take a screw driver – and adjust the beam of the headlights. [So they would be lower – and not so much into the eyes of oncoming traffic]

  • Richard Wakem

    this is quite true, however what is making the issue even worse is the increase in SUV’s whose headlight are set higher up in fact at eye level in most cars
    but the good bit is if they are on your car you can see better ?

    • dufonrafal .

      The lights are aimed down, so if they’re properly set, that shouldn’t be an issue.

    • realist50

      I completely agree, even when set corrrctly they blind you. Even aimed down that’s still into a sedan car drivers eyes. I have a low car with super bright self leveling hids but since my cars lower then everything else no one complains. I’m guessing dufonrafal doesn’t drive a sedan. Probably a truck, suv, or crossover.

  • Andrew Riles

    I agree…and from what I understand the higher color temp (5000K and higher) of most HID and LED lights means they are more dazzling to look at compared to a light (usually halogen) at around 3000K with the same output…

    • Axel Cortez

      OEM lights HID and LED are 4300-5000 not higher as you start losing lumens at that point

      • Andrew Riles

        Good to know….and it sounds like a good compromise temperature wise…I’m probably thinking of a lot of aftermarket stuff that uses the higher temps….

        • Axel Cortez

          4000-5000k is the spectrum of that ER white light you have a ton lot more contrast and better vision with that color temp any higher and you shift to blue

  • Vassilis

    My personal experience says otherwise. I’ve never been dazzled by cars with LED headlights. Also, I’ve never had complains I’m dazzling others. Including friends and family who would definitely let me know.

  • dufonrafal .

    I’m very sensitive to dazzle and I have absolutely no issues with LED or xenon headlights.

    Especially since, at least in Europe, they must be fited with automatic leveling.

    Of course, they need to be properly set.

  • Sébastien

    And then we talk about LED bulbs, which are sold/used in headlights housing that were never meant for LEDs….

    • RJ Scott

      Excellent point. If the reflector or projector was not designed for LED output, you can either have poor lighting or misdirected lighting. There are similar issues going from Halogen to HID.

    • Infinite1

      Plug and play stuff like LED bulbs in a halogen housing or projector will always look like crap, have UN-even beam distribution, and will dazzle people. Retrofitting HID or LED projectors is the best option if you want to get away from halogen, have the best performance and visibility

  • Christian Wimmer

    Strangely I am not to bothered by all of these modern LED headlights, but what really hurts my eyes are the LED brake lights on some of these newer cars at night. Audi LRD brake lights in particular just make my eyes hurt. Whenever I am behind a newer Audi at night in city traffic I have to look left or right for the duration of the stop because I feel like I am being blinded.

  • Manuel

    I believe this is a real issue. I have noticed being more and more regularly blinded by other cars’ LED headlights for months and I was discussing this with friends just last week. This should have been noticed by the car certification bodies. But then again, I live in Germany where the regulatory bodies are too sympathetic to the car industry…

  • badcyclist

    In the US, DOT standards punish car manufacturers for low beams that do not project down the road almost as far as high beams. This is a crazy testing standard and will only make the problem mentioned here worse, because it encourages carmakers to set their low beams to “blind.”

    On a car discussion list where I am a member, several commenters have already manually raised their low beams because of the new DOT headlight tests.

  • BlackPegasus

    I’m not bothered by the LEDs. I am however bothered by the aftermarket super bright lights some pickup truck drivers use to mod their vehicles. They sit higher so the beam is blinding when they’re in my rear view.

  • Maricaibo

    LEDs, IMHO, produce more glare than illumination, and have no place on automobiles and it seems most commenters agree.


  • U8INIT

    Then y’all need to go back to horse and carriage then…omg!!! Where’s the cheese!!!

  • S3XY

    Only lights I get blinded by are those huge ford trucks and people with their brights on.

    That’s it. Typical crying from our current generation of whiners.

    Tip: Get your windows tinted.

  • gibgibgib

    personally I hate the look of LED headlights when they’re not in projectors. it looks like this messy blue fog of light in the headlight housing – hard to explain!

  • Dennis James

    Besides the headlights, I have also noticed that the taillights of some cars are too bright. When I sit behind a modern Audi at a stoplight at night, I can’t stop cursing the Audi designers…it’s crazy how the taillights can blind you especially if the brake pedal is pressed but not only.

  • Anton Milland

    Who needs to be needlessly blinded by high intensity LEDs throughout daylight hours, isn’t the Sun good enough anymore, even the Buses / Trucks are fitted with them, and if people can’t see any vehicles in natural daylight then they shouldn’t be driving anyway…. motorbikes and certainly bicycles I can understand having sensible brightness DRLs, The idiots who came up with this ‘Elf n Safety’ law should have pushed for light sensors for the sidelights when the light level drops to a notable degree like going through a tunnel or into a heavily forested area for example. the Gaoling part is that these crazy laws weren’t put before the people.. The Gov / EU knows best attitude when the truth of the matter is they are incompetent PC statistic driven academics who have no wisdom or common sense ! …..and to think we vote for them ultimately to do what they want not WE the People ! !

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