Almost half of drivers have felt blinded by othersFri, 10/11/2017
If you’ve ever felt blinded by another car’s headlights, and the likelihood is that you have, the two second effect is enough time to travel half a football pitch, making it more than just an inconvenience – it makes it dangerous.
Rob Hull, The Mail Online, reports:
It's one of the biggest bugbears of drivers - turning a corner in the pitch dark to be greeted by an oncoming motorist who has forgotten to dip their headlights, dazzling them in the process.
A new study has found that 48 per cent of drivers polled - which would account for 29 million licence holders - have felt momentarily blinded by inconsiderate motorists in the last 12 months alone.
And that's despite many manufacturers having automatic dip-beam functions built into their latest cars.
To measure the dangers of dazzling, Direct Line conducted a roadside experiment and found that drivers are temporarily blinded by other vehicle's headlights for an average of two seconds.
That doesn't sound long, but it is enough for the victim to cover more than 60 metres completely unsighted when travelling at 70mph.
The insurer's dazzle test recorded the immediate effect of a vehicle passing with full beam headlights on a driver's vision at night.
Those taking part in the study said it took two seconds for their visibility to return to a state where they felt they could see the road ahead clearly again, though flashes and black dots would continue to hinder their vision for another three seconds - and a lot can happen in that time.
Being unsighted for just two seconds means motorists travelling at 60mph will cover 53.6 metres before their vision returns while those driving at 70mph would travel 62.5 metres - that's more than half a regulation-size football pitch.
This had led to plenty of near misses, the study revealed.
Of those asked, a fifth (20 per cent) have had to brake suddenly and five per cent - which represents around 1.5 million motorists - have needed to take evasive action to avoid having a crash because they'd almost driven off the road because their eyesight have been impacted.
Rob Miles, director of car insurance at Direct Line, said: 'As the research shows, drivers have to make sudden adjustments to counteract the effects of being dazzled, which could sometimes lead to a dangerous outcome.
'This is supported by government statistics which show in the past five years 1,622 road accidents have been caused by drivers being dazzled by headlights, of which 350 accidents (22 per cent) were either serious or fatal.'
Almost half of those surveyed (44 per cent) said repeat offenders should be penalised if caught in the act, with a fifth calling for perpetrators to receive a fine and penalty points.
But the issue isn't solely down to inconsiderate drivers refusing or forgetting to dip their main beams as others approach.
Of the 2,003 adults surveyed, 37 per cent said they'd been blinded by a vehicle's headlights that were in the dipped setting but still incredibly bright.
This is most likely due to modern advances in headlight technology rather than an alignment issue, with Xenon bulbs producing a brighter light than conventional halogen products.
While this can improve the lit area ahead of the driver, the more powerful glow can dazzle anyone looking straight at them.
More than a third (35 per cent) also said their vision has been impaired by drivers behind who've dazzled them in their rear-view mirror.
Despite almost half of motorists saying they've been temporarily blinded by other road users, 72 per cent of the panel claimed they've never done the same to others and always dip their lights when meeting oncoming traffic.
The arrival of new technology should mean that main-beam dazzling becomes a thing of the past.
Most modern cars now come with an auto-dip headlight function that identifies when another vehicle is in main-beam proximity and lowers the lights in advance.
However, these systems can struggle to recognise cyclists and pedestrians, putting the onus back on the driver not to dazzle more vulnerable road users.
Though it appears some don't dip for them anyway - just 64 per cent said they lower their lights when approaching walkers while just 59 per cent dip beams when driving towards cyclists.
Lowering your headlights is currently a courtesy to protect other drivers from becoming dazzled. But should there be a penalty for those who refuse to dip their lights, as this is potentially dangerous?