Toyota Pressures Safety Regulators about New Headlights

Toyota continues to pressure U.S. safety regulators to approve a headlight design that is currently not allowed on U.S. roads. These new headlights use cameras to detect other vehicles and dim portions of the high beams to avoid blinding oncoming traffic.

Currently, these headlights are in use in more than 16,000 vehicles in Japan and Europe. Many automakers, along with Toyota, argue that these headlights will make driving at night safer, and last month, Toyota filed a petition for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to update its regulations.

The headlight design is seen more as a feature of convenience, saving the driver from constantly switching between high and low beams when driving after dark. If put into U.S. vehicles, high beams that don't blind oncoming traffic can save an estimated 9 of 2,334 pedestrians that die annually. These numbers are based off NHTSA accident data.

The NHTSA told Automotive News that "The agency continues to look at ways in which the federal lighting standard can provide even better illumination for drivers." Thanks to Toyota's petition, the NHTSA will start a project to assess the headlights; however automakers will have to prove these headlights improve safety.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that Acura, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo vehicles with headlights that swivel when going around corners were involved with 5 to 10 percent fewer insurance claims with vehicles without them. Bart Teburg, chairman of the lighting group at SAE International, said there's only one issue with testing the headlights.  "If you had those vehicles around, you could collect data on what the effects would be. But if you don't have them around, you can't say anything."

Source: Automotive News