NHTSA Considers Changes to Longstanding Headlight Standards

30 October 2018 Dashboard Insights Blog
Author(s): Lauren M. Loew

After a multi-year push from automakers, NHTSA recently proposed changes to the long standing federal laws governing headlights.  For years, NHTSA only permitted high beams and low beams in headlights.  Although some automakers offer auto dimming headlights, the beams are limited to switching between traditional high and low beams due to government standards.

In the European Union, vehicles are permitted to have adaptive driving beam headlights.  Adaptive driving beams such as matrix LED lights use sensors to detect oncoming objects, and adapt the beams to avoid projecting high beam light directly onto oncoming cars and drivers.

NHTSA’s proposal to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108: Maps, reflective devices, and associated equipment, proposes to “permit the certification of adaptive driving beam head lighting systems.”  According to the notice, Toyota Motor North America petitioned NHTSA to permit manufacturers to use ADP systems.  NHTSA is proposing standards to ensure such headlights meet appropriate safety and performance requirements if used by manufacturers.

Automakers believe these changes are going to make drivers safer by both avoiding high beams blinding oncoming drivers, while encouraging drivers to use high beams when needed on dark roads.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has analyzed headlights in several studies, finding that a big problem facing vehicles, and particularly SUVs, is too much incoming glare that blind oncoming drivers.  However the IIHS also found that 80% of drivers fail to turn on their high beams when they should be using them.  These countervailing problems could both be solved by adaptive driving beams.

Comments on the proposed rules are due by December 11, 2018.

This blog is made available by Foley & Lardner LLP (“Foley” or “the Firm”) for informational purposes only. It is not meant to convey the Firm’s legal position on behalf of any client, nor is it intended to convey specific legal advice. Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Foley & Lardner LLP, its partners, or its clients. Accordingly, do not act upon this information without seeking counsel from a licensed attorney. This blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Communicating with Foley through this website by email, blog post, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship for any legal matter. Therefore, any communication or material you transmit to Foley through this blog, whether by email, blog post or any other manner, will not be treated as confidential or proprietary. The information on this blog is published “AS IS” and is not guaranteed to be complete, accurate, and or up-to-date. Foley makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation or content of the site. Foley expressly disclaims all other guarantees, warranties, conditions and representations of any kind, either express or implied, whether arising under any statute, law, commercial use or otherwise, including implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Foley or any of its partners, officers, employees, agents or affiliates be liable, directly or indirectly, under any theory of law (contract, tort, negligence or otherwise), to you or anyone else, for any claims, losses or damages, direct, indirect special, incidental, punitive or consequential, resulting from or occasioned by the creation, use of or reliance on this site (including information and other content) or any third party websites or the information, resources or material accessed through any such websites. In some jurisdictions, the contents of this blog may be considered Attorney Advertising. If applicable, please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Photographs are for dramatization purposes only and may include models. Likenesses do not necessarily imply current client, partnership or employee status.

Related Services