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Bright ideas are a danger to taxi drivers and other road users

Rainy night in city, cars waiting on wet road because of red traffic light, rain was illuminated by the headlights of cars, focused on the asphalt road.

Being blinded by bright headlights is extremely dangerous and is an issue taxi drivers face every night, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Figures show it is a contributing factor in 280 crashes a year – with six being fatal. This has a devastating impact on the families of the victims, as well as everyone else involved. But it is not just drivers who forget to dip their full beams that are the problem.

Motorists are raising concerns about dazzling LED headlights, especially those that have been retro-fitted onto older vehicles, as well as brake lights and even traffic lights.

Bright styles

Lighting became a key styling focus for cars when Audi launched its LED daytime running lights in the early 2000s. Since then, manufacturers have come up with all sorts of variations and ideas to make their own models stand out, including Audi and Range Rover’s unique takes on indicators.

For those unwilling or unable to part with a small fortune for the latest luxury lighting design, cheap replacements and upgrades can easily be found on the internet and can usually be installed without the need for a mechanic, making them even more appealing.

The problem is that it is not as simple as changing a lightbulb in the home. This is because headlights and other vehicle components have been designed and engineered for a specific and precise purpose, and headlights are no different. You cannot just put in an LED bulb – the entire headlight casing, which has been designed with automatic levelling to avoid dazzling, must be installed.

While cheap conversion kits might seem like an easy option, they are not road-legal in the UK, and a vehicle will fail its MoT, making it unroadworthy and illegal to drive. The lens and reflector must also be replaced with the correct pattern for the bulb fitted.

Dazzling danger

Fuel cards provider Fleetmaxx Solutions looked at the issue and discovered a recent survey conducted by The AA revealed worrying statistics.

More than three-quarters (76%) of drivers have reported being blinded by oncoming headlights, while more than half (52%) have “experienced the discomfort of dazzle from headlights behind them”.

And a quarter (26%) of drivers have been blinded by brake lights from vehicles in front and almost a third (31%) had been dazzled by LED traffic lights.

The RAC and the AA have both called for the Department for Transport to launch an investigation.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for The AA, told Fleetmaxx Solutions: “Being dazzled by headlights is something most drivers experience, but it seems that many drivers are now overwhelmed with bright lights.”

The AA suggests that the problem has been exacerbated by the huge number of SUVs on our roads, which are higher than traditional cars, and could cause more glare.

More than half (56%) of the drivers surveyed told the AA there needs to be tighter regulations on LED headlights with 27% believing that manufacturers were putting styling ahead of functionality in new cars.

It is an issue that must be looked at seriously and serves as a reminder that when it comes to vehicles, small and seemingly insignificant changes can have huge and sometimes tragic consequences.

All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.