By Matt Schmitz on May 15, 2013
Automakers are asking U.S. safety regulators to lighten up on headlight restrictions. They want to implement new headlight technologies that allow motorists to use their high beams without blinding other drivers. European and Japanese automakers, in recent weeks, have ramped up the dialogue on the issue with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in hopes of bringing to U.S. consumers headlight advancements already used on thousands of vehicles sold overseas.
Volvo in March announced that S60 sedans, V60 wagons and XC60 crossovers on sale this spring in Europe will have "Active High-Beam Control," which uses a camera and an automatic shading mechanism to avoid blinding oncoming drivers, USA Today reported. The system would need government approval before the automaker could sell vehicles equipped with it in the U.S. Audi and BMW also have similar technologies ready to deploy, but are still working with NHTSA for approval, while Mercedes-Benz's enhanced headlight-dimming technology isn't yet ready for the U.S. market, the newspaper reported.
Toyota has taken an extra step, filing a petition in March officially requesting that NHTSA update its 14-year-old headlight regulations, according to Automotive News. The Japanese automaker already has installed a system in cars sold overseas that detects other cars and dims portions of the high beams that would shine in other drivers' eyes. Toyota contends that, in addition to being a convenience, the system could reduce the number of pedestrians killed due to dark driving conditions, the trade paper reported.
USA Today reported that NHTSA is considering the changes and working with the Society of Automotive Engineers International to study the matter.
"The advancement in lighting technology, electronics, and the use of cameras and sensor information are allowing manufacturers and suppliers to develop innovative projects that were just not possible with sealed beam bulb technology," NHTSA said in a statement.
News Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt