Half of regular drivers say they are suffering more from the effect of dazzling headlights than they were just 12 months ago, research conducted by the RAC has found.
The problem of glare is experienced by an estimated 16.1m UK drivers, based on 91 per cent of drivers responding saying “some” or “most” car headlights are too bright and 54 per cent of these saying they are dazzled more regularly now than a year ago.
When asked how they are affected by glare, six-in-ten of those affected said they regularly get dazzled by oncoming headlights even though they are dipped, with 60 per cent being unable to tell if headlights are either dipped or on full beam.
Forty-five per cent complained they get dazzled by headlights in their rear-view mirror, while 70 per cent believe some lights are so bright they represent an accident risk.
Government data shows there are around 300 collisions every year where dazzling headlights are a factor.
The research also found that in some cases drivers themselves might be inadvertently causing glare – either by not adjusting their lights correctly, or by having badly-aligned lights.
47 per cent of drivers either never adjust their car headlights up or down when carrying different loads, or don’t do it regularly enough.
A quarter of drivers meanwhile have suspected problems with a misaligned headlight, with nine per cent of this group either trying to sort the problem out themselves or ignoring it altogether.
DVSA figures show that of the 26.5m MOT tests completed in 2018 for Class 4 vehicles, six per cent still failed as result of problems with headlamp aim, the equivalent of nearly 1.6m vehicles.
“Most likely item to be assessed incorrectly by testers”
In 2016, the agency also stated that “headlamp aim consistently tops the MOT compliance survey as one of the most likely items to be assessed incorrectly by testers.”
RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “The dazzling effect of another driver’s headlights isn’t just uncomfortable – in some cases it can be nothing short of dangerous, making us lose sight of the road for a short time.
“So it’s concerning to see that a greater proportion of drivers have reported problems with glare this year than last year.
“Among some drivers there is a perception that newer headlights cause more glare.
“But while a sizeable proportion claim it is the xenon headlights more often found in higher-end vehicles that are primarily to blame, a greater proportion either don’t know the difference between lights or aren’t sure.
“In reality, the issue of glare is a complex one and it’s not as straightforward as saying one type of lightbulb causes more of a dazzling effect than another – there are a range of reasons why a driver might be dazzled, from a slight misalignment of a headlight, the difference in ride height of different vehicles and even individual people’s vision.
“That explains why not every car headlight appears to be dazzling, with eight-in-ten drivers saying only some cause glare.
“Nonetheless, all headlights have to meet specific international standards, which motorists might be surprised to discover haven’t been updated since the 1960s and so do not take specific account of newer technologies like xenon and LED.
“And an overwhelmingly proportion of drivers – 84 per cent – now want the UK Government to act to ensure the regulations are updated to remove the possibility of glare being a result of modern technology.”
Share your comments below.