An interesting story in the automotive news world recently has been the issue over headlights. While the story has currently been on many automotive sites, I first read about it on Yahoo, and in any case, many seemed to make this issue seem very recent. However, after looking into it, the issue was actually started much further back, as you can read in an article here that was written in February 2013 about it.
Audi has introduced “matrix LED” headlights to the world, which in short, is an advanced headlight with the ability to turn corners and automatically brighten or dim to properly illuminate the drivers view. The problem with this new system is that a United States law from 1968 says that there can only be two setting for headlights, high and low, thus, prohibiting the “matrix LED” from being on a vehicle sold in the US. Our friends in Europe will be able to enjoy Audi’s “bright” idea on their vehicles. I did do a little digging, and found what I believe is the law that states the high low beam issue. The more interesting thing to note is that before I found what I believe is the law, I am became much more aware of all the issues at hand.
One such issue is that due to the government and private sector being so distant from one another in advancement of technology, and the inability to communicate to one another about such technology; that in turn causes the government to cautiously proceed when they do not understand and cannot properly define or regulate certain technologies. That is one issue in this headlight ordeal.
Another is the overall American automotive headlight laws and regulations in general. Each state has their own laws and rules, which obviously must first adhere to the national laws. This is where I see a problem.
The problem is that not all headlights are created equal. We have all seen the cars equipped with the xenon headlights. Those emit a much different light that standard headlights. The sheer difference in light emitted by all sorts of headlights on cars on the road is really not a good case for the government to claim cars can only have two settings. Sure you can have a “high” and a “low” but the light emitted in those settings can vary from bulb to bulb and vehicle to vehicle. From what I understand, “matrix LED” equalizes what each car emits because it is senses the light surrounding your car. That would be much more beneficial to all drivers.
We have all come across a driver who has forgotten to turn off their brights. That can be unpleasant and sometimes it results in an accident. “Matrix LED” would eliminate that because it would dim for you. However, it is also fair to point out that, a system like this can be distracting and unpleasant as well. The ability for lights to change on their own in fractions of seconds could result in distracted driving in the same manner as our current method of headlight change, human error.
I can see the pros and cons of the issue. I understand both the government and the auto makers side of things. I also understand the consumer side. There are so many factors and opinions that can be weighed and expressed. Feel free to let me know what you think.