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Drivers say headlight glare is getting worse – survey

The survey of 2,000 UK drivers suggested 89% think some car headlights are too bright (Alamy/PA)
The survey of 2,000 UK drivers suggested 89% think some car headlights are too bright (Alamy/PA)

More than four out of five (85%) drivers affected by headlight glare say the problem is getting worse, a survey suggests.

The RAC, which commissioned the poll, called on the Government to fund an independent study into the issue.

It believes headlights appear brighter on modern cars because their use of LED rather than traditional halogen bulbs creates a more intense and focused beam, which improves a driver’s view but can be to the detriment of other road users.

Other potential factors include badly aligned headlights and the increase in the number of cars that sit higher on the road, such as SUVs.

The survey of 2,000 UK drivers suggested 89% think some car headlights are too bright.

Two-thirds (67%) of those affected by headlight glare say being dazzled forces them to slow down considerably until they can see clearly again, while 64% believe some headlights are so bright they risk causing accidents.

One in seven (14%) drivers aged 65 and over said the issue is so bad they avoid driving at night.

Government figures show that since 2013 there has been an average of 280 collisions on Britain’s roads every year where dazzling headlights were a contributory factor.

Of these, six a year involved someone losing their life.

The RAC has raised the issue of headlight glare with the Department for Transport (DfT) and has been working with Labour peer Baroness Hayter to seek action.

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Our figures suggest drivers are more concerned than ever about headlight glare, with a huge proportion wanting to see something done about it.

“We urgently need the Government to take a closer look at the issue, ideally by commissioning an independent study to understand what’s causing an increase in reports of dazzling and, most importantly, what can be done to keep drivers safe.

“With spring still a long way off, there’s a good chance many people will do most of their driving in darkness over the next few months and, according to our research, that means an awful lot of drivers will experience the discomfort and even danger that comes from being dazzled by headlights.”

Mike Bowen, director of knowledge and research at the College of Optometrists, said: “The results from this research by the RAC are helpful to inform our understanding of how changes in vehicle headlight technologies may be affecting both the functional vision of young and older drivers – and their visual comfort – when driving at night.

“We urge the Government to commission more technical and clinical research to have a better understanding of this issue and what should be done to ease the effects of dazzling headlights.”

Baroness Hayter said: “The RAC has demonstrated that some car headlights can dazzle, causing a danger for oncoming drivers. We know drivers in other countries share this concern.

“So, Government should take action now to be on the side of road safety.”

Nicholas Lyes, director of policy and standards at road safety charity IAM RoadSmart, said: “Drivers are increasingly telling us they are concerned by modern headlights and some are now even limiting the amount of time they spend driving during darkness to avoid glare.

“Being dazzled by a headlight has a worrying impact on road safety and we need policymakers to take this matter seriously.”

A DfT spokesperson said: “We take safety on our roads extremely seriously and last year we strengthened requirements for headlamps to reduce glare, following advice from an international expert group.

“All headlights must adhere to strict technical standards in order for vehicles to be approved for our roads.”

– The survey of 2,000 UK drivers was conducted by research company Online95 in December.