How important is headlight safety?
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How important is headlight safety?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) evaluates motor vehicles in California and the rest of the country for crashworthiness. The IIHS uses a five-category testing system to review cars and how safe they are. Those categories include

-- Head restraints and seats

-- Roof strength

-- Side

-- Small overlap front

-- Moderate overlap front

When it comes to the areas of the testing that involve the front of the car, the IIHS pays close attention to a vehicle's headlight systems.

The headlight evaluation is a critical part of the IIHS' safety testing activities. That's because lighting factors potentially play a role in 50 percent of car crashes. About half of motor vehicle crashes happen on dark or poorly lit roadways.

Headlights and their efficacy play a crucial role in nighttime crash prevention. That said, not all headlights are created equally. There are many variations in light technology and bulb type. There are many different strategies for aiming lights. All this significantly affects how well the bulbs illuminate the surrounding environment.

In recent years LED bulbs and high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights have brought dramatic improvements to the crash-preventing ability and illumination power of light technology. Some automakers have even designed headlights that swivel when vehicles are turning. Then there is "high beam assist" technology, which causes your beams to go from low to high depending on surrounding traffic.

The IIHS knows the importance of headlight safety, but government authorities have not advanced the rules and regulations surrounding headlights. As such, you could be driving a new car that doesn't have the safest headlights installed. Be certain to talk with your local mechanic and review IIHS recommendations to ensure that you have the safest lights available installed on your vehicle.

If you're injured in a car accident with a vehicle that was experiencing headlight problems, the crash might not have been your fault. A personal injury lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case to determine if a claim for damages is warranted.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "About our tests," accessed March 14, 2017

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