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Are bright headlights legal?

Kwik Fit | Wednesday 10th July 2019 4:19pm

Car headlights on motorway

As a motorist, itís likely there are a few driving-related annoyances that irritate you when youíre behind the wheel - and bright headlights may be one of them. If youíve ever been dazzled by another driverís beam, youíre probably aware of how distracting this can be.

The truth is, being exposed to another carís bright beam can be a distressing experience. The light may be so bright that it is practically blinding, leaving you in a potentially dangerous situation while youíre driving.

To find out more about this common road-related nuisance and what you can do to feel more comfortable at the wheel if youíre confronted with bright headlights, keep reading.

Are bright headlights legal?

The term Ďdazzling headlightsí refers to headlights that are so bright that they create a blinding effect for oncoming traffic. Aside from making you feel uncomfortable, being in this position could cause you to lose sight of the road in front of you, which could be extremely dangerous for you, your passengers and other motorists, even if itís for a few seconds. In fact, official government data reports that dazzling headlights are a factor in approximately 300 road accidents every year.

What are dazzling headlights?

Despite the effect they can have on other road users, bright headlights are in fact legal, but there are growing concerns around the aging regulations regarding headlights. At the moment, all headlights are required to meet specific international standards - but the truth is, these regulations have not been updated since 1960, meaning they do not take newer technologies, such as LED and xenon bulbs, into account.

The good news is, headlight aim is assessed during a vehicleís MOT inspection. The testing standards for this section of the inspection were improved in 2016. According to figures acquired by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency, six per cent of the 26.5 million Class 4 vehicles that underwent MOT testing in 2018 over the age of three years failed due to inaccuracies with headlight aim, equating to nearly 1.6 million vehicles.

Are they legal?

Thereís an assumption among driverís that newer headlight bulbs create more glare, but there are actually a number of reasons why you might feel like some carsí lights are more dazzling than others. For example, a slight misalignment of a headlight could be to blame. It could even be down to a personís individual vision and their perception of a carís headlights. Itís important to note that what you may feel is the reason for being dazzled by another vehicleís beam might not be the same for someone else.

Why are some cars' headlights so bright?

Thereís no denying that being dazzled by another driverís headlights can be distracting and irritating when youíre trying to concentrate behind the wheel. The good news is, there are a few things you can try to avoid this nuisance while youíre out and about on the roads.

How can I avoid being dazzled by another driver's headlights?

Especially if you wear glasses, talking to your optician is a great place to start. You should be able to add a special coating to your glasses which can make it easier to see when youíre faced with bright headlights.

Make sure your windscreen is clear

If your carís windscreen is dirty on the inside or outside, you may find that any smudges or smears cause the light to refract. This can make it more difficult for you to see clearly, so itís worth getting into the habit of making sure your windscreen is clean and clear at all times.

Adjust the rear view mirror

You may find that simply adjusting your rear view mirror helps reduce the glare from motorists approaching your car from behind.

Go for a vehicle with inbuilt rear view mirror technology

If youíre looking for a new car, you might find it useful to go for a model with inbuilt rear view mirror technology which has the ability to dim the mirror automatically. Alternatively, you could opt for a vehicle with darkened Ďsunset glassí to help reduce the glare from bright headlights.

What can I do if my headlights are too bright?

You might not realise it, but the headlights on your vehicle may be too bright and causing issues for other road users. As the driver, it can be difficult to tell if youíre contributing to the problem, but there are a few things you can do to alter your lights to ensure youíre not dazzling your fellow motorists.

For example, itís worth checking if your vehicle automatically levels its headlights based on the weight of the load youíre carrying. If they donít adjust automatically, you could try manually changing them in line with the instructions found in your carís manual. So, if youíre driving by yourself with a completely empty boot, your headlight settings will need to be different compared to when youíre driving with other people in the car and a boot full of heavy luggage.

You may also want to have the angle of your headlights looked at when you take your vehicle for its next service. The technician should be able to inspect your headlights and make sure the beam is positioned in the correct direction.

If youíre concerned about your vehicleís headlights, Kwik Fit can help. Simply bring your car in for a service at one of our centres and our team of experts will be able to carry out a thorough assessment of this part of your car.

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