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Headlights too bright!

Chacham (981) writes | more than 10 years ago

User Journal 6

Car headlights are bothering me more and more. They seem to be using brighter headlights now, as the standard beams seem like hi-beams. Many cars have one decent light and another bright one.

Because of that, it's getting harder to drive at nighttime. Even after the rear-view mirror is flipped up, the driver-side mirror reflects alot from small trucks and SUVs, and cars going in the opposite direction can bearly blind my sight.

Car headlights are bothering me more and more. They seem to be using brighter headlights now, as the standard beams seem like hi-beams. Many cars have one decent light and another bright one.

Because of that, it's getting harder to drive at nighttime. Even after the rear-view mirror is flipped up, the driver-side mirror reflects alot from small trucks and SUVs, and cars going in the opposite direction can bearly blind my sight.

It used to be not like this. Has something changed? Does anyone else having this problem?

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headlights (1)

subgeek (263292) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163182)

first, i think you're right that they're getting brighter. but i think it's equally important that they're also getting higher. more SUVs on the road means that more vehicles have beams being projected from a higher location. if the beams start out higher, there is more opportunity for them to shine into your car, rear view mirror, eyeballs, etc. lights are also getting more blue in color. it's a higher energy light and therefore more irritating when they shine in your face.

also, i've noticed that several cars on the road have maladjusted headlights that don't aim down the way they should.

Re:headlights (1)

Cyberdyne (104305) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163816)

I've noticed headlights seem to be getting brighter, too; as you say, poor aiming is probably a factor, and the move towards more efficient and longer-lasting bulbs (which produce more light, and IIRC with a spectrum more irritating to the eye as well) won't help. Worst of all, though, people seem more prone to driving around with lights on - Volvo started this, making a car where the lights are always on while driving (sidelights only), which seems to make drivers put the headlights on more readily - then they're more likely to drive around without dipping the lights for passing cars...

AIUI, parts of Europe have various rules - headlights must be tinted yellow (less obnoxious to oncoming vehicles?) and be angled to the right (away from oncoming traffic). Both of those should help.

The worst ones, though, are the characters who weld entire stage lighting systems to the hood - enough to blind oncoming traffic at 20 miles, and the car probably slows 30mph whenever you put the lights on! Insane: however bright your lights, you can only see a certain distance ahead, and adding more lighting just makes things worse. Doesn't stop them though...

Agreed... (1)

Saige (53303) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163191)

I've noticed the same thing... done enough nighttime highway driving to hate the glare from some SUV's too-high and too-bright headlights (especially those xenon ones or whatever) from my rear and side mirror. Cars aren't as bad, as the headlights are lower.

It's especially bad when you've got obnoxiously bright headlights in the city/suburbs, since there's so much light anyways, you could probably see the car without the headlights on. The overly-bright ones are almost worse, cause instead of just not seeing the one car, you can not see multiple cars from the glare.

yep (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163421)

Definiately brighter.

And higher, as subgeek pointed out. That's a huge freakin' problem. Damn SUV crap. I once had a lengthy list of reasons why SUVs are bad, for everyone else on the road (and no, gasoline guzzling and environmentalism weren't on the list). I'll have to dig it up...

Also occassionally I'll come across headlights that are maybe a translucent blueish or some such. Not only are they bright, they actually make me physically ill. When I see these lights, I get dizzy, nauseaus, and just outright sick. It passes after a minute or two, but just damn! WTF is with those lights?!

Aftermarket HID and HID-Lookalikes to blame (1)

GoRK (10018) | more than 10 years ago | (#7163618)

Well, you're not going crazy. Car headlights are generally putting out more lumens per watt than they used to, and more people are driving with their fog lights on unnecessarily, and more people are driving trucks (SUV's) with higher headlights, but that's not really the problem you're experiencing with blinding headlights. The problem is genearlly improper aiming and aftermarket headlights.

Most states (at least the ones that have not dropped yearly vehicle inspections entirely) have dropped headlight aiming requirements from vehicle inspections because they were the source of much extortion. Inspectors would charge for the vehicle to be hooked up to an "expensive" machine (at least it looked expensive -- often it was nothing more than some garage equipment with a pie pan in it) to check the headlight alignment, then charge an arm and a leg to twist the adjustment screw around. A lot of people were getting suckered, unfortunately, so the requirement went away.

Now, a lot of people are driving around with misaimed headlights as a result. Depending on the type of lamp in your car, the center of your lowbeams should fall about 5" down from the bulb height at 20 feet away from the car. You can check your aiming by driving up to a wall at night and taking a tape measure. Generally, SUV's and other trucks should be aimed a bit lower, dimmer bulbs should be aimed a bit higher, etc. The higher the lumen output, the lower the aim -- generally.

The biggest glare problems come from aftermarket HID systems and HID lookalike bulbs. Coupled with the aiming problem, they are a complete disaster. HID uses a ballast to drive a lamp with high frequency, high voltage (low current) AC, similar to the way flourescent lights are driven. Aside from being very expensive, (around 5-600 bucks per headlamp), this has the nice effect of throwing out absolutely incredible amounts of light for the power used. Factory installed HID low beams generally have an ellipsoid reflector in the light assembly, which directs all the light "down" to the road instead of "up" into the sky and the face of other drivers. If you shine the car's lights at a wall, you'll have a nice horizontal line along it.. Many manufacturers such as BMW are also implementing self-leveling and self-aiming mechanisms into the lights to account for going up hills/around corners. Complaints from other drivers from these kinds of lights are virtually nonexistant.

The downside is that real HID's are very nice to have and lots of people think the "blue/violet" of the higher color temp. looks neat, so they go out and either get a HID kit (if they can afford it) or HID-lookalike bulbs. The hid-lookalikes, even though they are just really expensive normal bulbs, generally do throw more light out at a higher color temp. than stock bulbs, so they are really, truly, "brighter" than stock bulbs even though they dont come close to the light output of true HID. In both cases, the lamps are generally retrofitted into the stock light assembly which is not made for HID and often does not have elipsoid reflectors to direct the light down (especially on vehicles that were not originally offered with HID options from the factory). Since there is no reflector to prevent the light shining up into the face of other drivers and since headlight aiming requirments are difficult to enforce without doing it during a yearly inspection, there is a really bad problem brewing.

A few things are being done about it, though. In some states, legislation is brewing to simply outlaw non-approved aftermarket lighting systems or at least aftermarket HID systems that have not met stringent safety guidelines. At the same time, vehicle manufacturers are putting more and more technology into windsheild glass, glass coatings, mirrors, and films to reduce glare and reflection from headlights at night.

So, what can you do about it until then? Unfortunately, not much. Some tips:

Do not flash your brights at someone you feel has a headlight problem. Usually, this will simply result in bright lights glaring back at you which can blind you and other motorists more than you already are creating more of a safety hazard.

When approaching lights are very bright on a 2 way road at night, look down and focus at the stripe that marks the right side of your lane or the shoulder and drive to follow the line until the car has passed. The lane markings immediately in front of your car are always the easiest thing to see whenever you find yourself blinded by headlights.

Most people have improperly aimed side mirrors that angle too far inward. You should angle your side mirrors to show you what your rear view mirror can not. If a car immediatly behind you in the same lane causes headlight glare into your eyes from your side mirrors, they are improperly adjusted. Angle your mirrors out toward the blind spots until you have a sweeping view of the largest angle behind you when glancing from left, to rear, to right mirrors.

Hope this answers your question.

~GoRK

Lights (1)

Crazieeman (610662) | more than 10 years ago | (#7166153)

I've noticed it too. Around here though, some people seem to think its cute to add high intensity yellow lights. Once a truck was coming down the opposite side of the highway, I thought the sun was rising.

I'm sort of the eye for an eye type. I bought ultra-high intensity blue lights for my car's high beams, and flick them on along with the fog lights for anyone that shines theirs in my face. They turn off the yellow lights/brights off very quickly.

Unfortunately for the truck drivers that think its cute to outfit high beams for normal driving, well, not unfortunately. They just get to suffer.
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