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: Speed a factor in one-third of deadly crashes involving teen drivers

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

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

7 hours ago

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...

Freight train industry to miss safety deadline

Apr 16, 2014

The U.S. freight railroad industry says only one-fifth of its track will be equipped with mandatory safety technology to prevent most collisions and derailments by the deadline set by Congress.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...