US approves new headlights that won’t blind oncoming drivers

DETROIT (AP) – Anyone who has been temporarily blinded by the high-beam headlights from an oncoming vehicle would be happy to hear this.

US highway safety regulators are on the verge of allowing new high-tech headlights that can automatically design beams to focus on darker areas of the road and not create glare for oncoming drivers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has released a final rule that allows for so-called “adaptive driving beam lights” on new vehicles. It will take effect when published in the Federal Register in the next few days.

Headlights, which are commonly used in Europe, contain LEDs that can focus light on darkness such as the driver’s lane and roadside areas. They also reduce the intensity of the light rays if there is oncoming traffic. Camera sensors and computers help determine where the light should go.

“This final rule will improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists by making them more visible at night, and will help prevent collisions by better lighting animals and objects on and along the road,” the agency said in a news release on Tuesday.

The new rule, endorsed by the auto industry, comes as the safety agency battles a massive rise in traffic deaths nationwide.

the number of The number of traffic deaths in the United States rose in the first nine months of 2021 to 31,720, the government reported on Tuesday, keeping pace with a record pace of increased hazardous driving during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The estimated number of people dying in car accidents from January to September 2021 was 12% higher than the same period in 2020. This is the highest increase in nine months since the Department of Transportation began recording fatal accident data in 1975.

The number of deaths reached 31,720, the highest number in the nine months since 2006.

Sam Abuelsamid, principal mobility analyst at Guidehouse Research, said the new lights will appear in high-cost luxury cars initially, but will spread to more flagship vehicles as the price of the technology drops.

Audi currently charges $3,000 for the top-of-the-line version of the lights in the US on its e-tron Sportback electric car. Adaptive beam headlights are offered on most Audi models in the US, but so far, they can’t be used. An Audi spokesperson says the company is evaluating whether the bulbs meet NHTSA standards and whether they can be activated in the future.

This technology uses an array of light-emitting diodes that can change where beams of light are sent, rather than current technology for high-beam omnipresents. “You have the ability to quickly create an optical pattern that is optimized for real-time conditions,” said Abu Al-Samed. “You can shed light where that is most useful.”

Abu Al-Samed said the new lights will also help partially automated driver assistance systems keep cars in their lanes and avoid objects in front of cars at night.

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The new lighting regulation also comes more than a year and a half before a requirement in the bipartisan infrastructure law passed by Congress last year, the NHTSA said.

In the past, the agency has moved slowly regarding safety measures imposed by Congress. Associated Press review In the past year of NHTSA’s rule-making activities under the past three presidents it has found at least 13 car safety rules that are years overdue based on deadlines set in statutes passed by Congress.

The agency has been without a Senate-approved director since early 2017. President Joe Biden nominated former California air quality regulator Stephen Cliff for the position. Cliff is awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.

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