Over the past few days I’ve found it needful to do a considerable amount of driving at night. There have been times when I’ve found it annoying, specifically when I’ve been behind someone feeling the need to drive 10 to 25 MPH below the posted limit. It seemed that everyone with a paucity of night vision just had to be out on the very evenings I needed to run errands or finish the last of my Christmas shopping. I found it difficult to believe that so many people had some form of night blindness. Or at least I did until I was driving back from visiting family in the southwestern part of the state this evening.
On the 90-minute drive home the one thing I noticed was how many drivers had a tendency to slow down when traffic was approaching from the other direction. But the one thing I observed during the first half of the trip was that it didn’t happen every time there was oncoming traffic. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the differences. It was not too long after that I finally figured out why.
You know the ones I’m talking about: dazzling blue-white points of light that are both bright and distracting. It’s worse when the high-beams are on. The after-image can last just long enough to make it difficult to see.
Drivers would slow down when approaching vehicles had LED headlights, but not when they had halogen headlights.
I’ve always disliked the LED headlights and the HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlights that preceded them. Too bright. Dazzling. Distracting as hell as the eye tends to be drawn to them even when one tries to keep from gazing that direction. It’s apparent The Powers That Be believe the blue-white light illuminates better, but they have chosen to ignore the downside – dazzling oncoming drivers.
The problem can be solved a number of different ways, but two are likely to be most effective: Change the color of the LEDs to more closely match that of halogen headlights or make everyone wear the yellow night-driving glasses.
Of the two, the first is the most appealing to me. While the second will work (I have a pair of those glasses because I’ve found they do help knock down the glare from LED headlights), they are not the best answer. If an illumination system for vehicles requires the use of protective eye-wear, then the illumination system design is defective. Maybe it’s time for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Society of Automotive Engineers to step up and realize that the LED headlights as they are employed now are a bad idea and need to be re-engineered to remove the deficiencies affecting so many.