As daylight becomes a scarce commodity in the winter months, drivers are more likely to find themselves behind the wheel before dawn or after dusk. Nighttime driving is three times riskier than driving in broad daylight, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in part because of compromised visibility (among other factors). As part of its safety-related efforts, the IIHS conducted a study on the impact of headlight quality on a variety of nighttime crashes. The results show significant improvements in crash rates for vehicles with good-rated headlights compared to those with a poor rating.
Crash tests and advanced driver assistance systems often steal the spotlight for vehicle safety criteria, but headlight quality shouldn’t be overlooked. The latest IIHS study shows why headlight quality plays an important role in determining if a vehicle lands on the organization’s most coveted Top Safety Pick Plus list.
Headlight Study Results
The study evaluated 44,000 single-vehicle crashes that happened at night. All 187 vehicles studied were equipped with IIHS-rated headlight systems. When controlling for factors unrelated to visibility, headlights with good ratings reduced crashes by 19% compared to those with poor ratings. Vehicles with headlights rated acceptable or marginal reduced crash rates by 15% and 10%, respectively.
The results are even more pronounced for crashes involving driver injuries and pedestrians. Good-rated headlights reduced accidents resulting in driver injury by 29%, and pedestrian crashes by 23%, compared to poor-rated headlights.