Lab evaluates safety impacts of advanced car headlight systems

Oct 14, 2013
LRC evaluates safety impacts of advanced car headlight systems

Crash risks while driving at night are higher than during the daytime, but most roadways in the U.S. do not have roadway lighting. In fact, many state and local governments find it difficult to pay for installing, operating and maintaining roadway lighting. Despite these concerns, the proportion of nighttime driving is not likely to go down in today's round-the-clock economy, making car headlights increasingly important to nighttime driving safety. Through its Transportation Lighting and Safety program, the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is evaluating the potential for new lighting technologies and approaches to improve driving safety at night, including new car headlight systems.

Senior Research Scientist and Adjunct Assistant Professor John Bullough presented recent LRC research results at two international conferences dedicated to , vision, lighting and safety. At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting (www.isal-symposium.de), held September 23-25 in Darmstadt, Germany, Bullough presented a paper entitled "Applying visual performance modeling to adaptive curve lighting safety data," looking at swiveling or bending headlights that direct into roadway curves. Visibility analyses from LRC field studies using these systems in comparison with conventional, stationary low-beam headlights led to estimates of reduced nighttime crash frequencies of almost 4% along low-speed, sharp roadway curves and between 1% and 2% along higher-speed, shallower curves.

Earlier, at the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology's The Eye, The Brain and The Auto research congress (www.dioworldcongresses.com) held in Dearborn, Michigan from September 16-18, Bullough presented "Adaptive vehicle lighting, visual performance and safety," a look at the potential safety benefits of adaptive or glare-free high beam headlight systems, which are beginning to appear on international vehicle models. These systems allow drivers to use high beam headlights while selectively dimming a portion of the beam when oncoming drivers are present, which prevents glare to the oncoming drivers while providing improved visibility along the rest of the road. The LRC's analyses suggest that nighttime crashes might be reduced by nearly 7% when adaptive high beams are used, relative to using low beam headlights.

The basis for both studies was the relative visual performance (RVP) model developed by LRC Director Mark Rea. Bullough and Rea previously showed that the safety benefits from roadway intersection lighting were in line with visibility improvements evaluated using the RVP model for different types of intersections. According to Bullough, "Since for nighttime driving situations can be predicted accurately, and nighttime crash data are difficult to collect, RVP could serve as a practical surrogate for crashes, allowing us to efficiently identify new lighting systems for maximizing at night."

Explore further: Japan orders air bag maker to conduct probe

More information: Both studies were sponsored by the Transportation Lighting Alliance (TLA), consisting of vehicle and lighting manufacturers Audi, Automotive Lighting, Hella, OSRAM SYLVANIA, Philips, and Varroc Lighting.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Adaptive headlamp system introduced

Sep 02, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The independent industrial group Valeo, which is headquartered in France, has introduced a "BeamAtic" adaptive headlight system that enables drivers to keep their lights on high beam without ...

Car lighting makeover impacts feel of safety and style

Aug 16, 2010

Gone are the days of basic, glaring lights inside cars to help us find our seatbelts or scramble for a map. Taking cues from research in buildings and offices, today's car designers have started to incorporate gentle ambient ...

Recommended for you

Japan orders air bag maker to conduct probe

Nov 21, 2014

Japan's transport ministry said Friday it has ordered air bag maker Takata to conduct an internal investigation after cases of its air bags exploding triggered safety concerns in the United States and other countries.

Senators get no clear answers on air bag safety

Nov 20, 2014

There were apologies and long-winded explanations, but after nearly four hours of testimony about exploding air bags, senators never got a clear answer to the question most people have: whether or not their ...

Winter-like temps can reduce tire pressure

Nov 19, 2014

The polar plunge that has chilled much of the nation does more than bring out ice scrapers and antifreeze. It can trigger vehicles' tire pressure monitoring systems overnight, sending nervous drivers to dealers ...

US: Gov't aircraft regulations apply to drones (Update)

Nov 18, 2014

The U.S. government has the power to hold drone operators accountable when they operate the remote-control aircraft recklessly, a federal safety board ruled Tuesday in a setback to small drone operators chafing ...

Mapping the crisis of displaced peoples

Nov 17, 2014

Population displacement is a global problem, one that historically has been insufficiently quantified and analyzed, especially given its wide-ranging effects. Displacement can result from a number of factors, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.