Robert T. Lynch, P.E., Principal Collision Reconstruction Engineer
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has just announced that 2020 model year vehicles qualifying for the Top Safety Pick+ award need to have “good” or “acceptable” headlights as standard equipment. IIHS feels that this will encourage automakers to stop equipping vehicles with poor headlights that don’t light the road.
About half of all fatal crashes in the U.S. occur in the dark, and more than a quarter occur on unlit roads. The overwhelming majority of fatal pedestrian collisions occur at night. Headlights have an obvious role to play in preventing nighttime crashes, but not all headlights perform their job equally. Differences in bulb type, headlights technology and even the aim of the headlights all affect the amount of useful light on the roadway ahead.
This new headlight criteria for the top safety rating along with an “advanced” rating in frontal crash protection on vehicles equipped with vehicle-to-pedestrian automatic emergency braking (AEB) shows that the IIHS is putting more weight into vehicle technologies that prevent or mitigate pedestrian collisions. High-beam assist, and curve-adaptive headlights are two other technologies that have been demonstrated to reduce claim rates and provide additional protection to pedestrians by allowing drivers to see objects in the roadway from a greater distance away.
Robert T. Lynch, P.E., Principal Collision Reconstruction Engineer with DJS Associates, Inc., can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.