The benefits of lighting up

Monday 7 February 2011

Xenon and bi-xenon headlamps

Only a quarter of car journeys occur at night, between 1900 and 0800, but 40% of driver deaths and serious injuries happen in these hours*. One contributing factor to the high proportion of accidents at this time is reduced visibility.

Xenon and bi-xenon headlamps significantly improve visibility for drivers when it is dark. The maximum range of illumination is around 100 meters – twice that of halogen bulbs. Vehicles fitted with these enhanced visibility headlights also feature adaptive lamp-levelling technology, which optimises visibility by adjusting the beam according to the vehicle’s movement.

There is no evidence that xenon and bi-xenon headlamps dazzle other road users more than any other type of headlamp. RoadSafe advises all drivers to maintain their vehicles and keep them clean to avoid any potential glare caused by incorrectly replaced or aligned bulbs and beams, or dirt on the headlamps.

Daytime running lights (DRL)

EU legislation comes in today (7 February) requiring manufacturers to fit all newly introduced models of cars with DRL. Research reports from the Department for Transport and European Transport Safety Council show DRL do not dazzle other road users during the day, but they are too bright for use at night, when drivers must switch to their headlamps.

RoadSafe director Adrian Walsh says: “We welcome the safety improvements that xenon and daytime running lights bring. Legislation takes into account evidence from extensive research, which shows xenon and bi-xenon headlamps, and DRL improve safety.

"However, some of the valid concerns for other road users cannot be ignored. Government needs to respond by addressing these. Changes to the MOT are almost certainly necessary to ensure all types of lights are properly assessed.”


* Centre for Transport Studies, UCL (University College London): Night-time accidents: a scoping study. Report to The AA Motoring Trust and Rees Jeffreys Road Fund. 


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Adrian Walsh
T: 07887 552 708

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