The death toll from traffic accidents is four times higher at night than during the day, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Many people searching for answers may find them in the results of a recent study on headlights from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Out of the 31 vehicles, the IIHS tested, only one, the Toyota Prius v, earned a “good” score, according to The Seattle Times.
The remaining 30 vehicles earned ratings of "acceptable," "marginal," and "poor."
Shedding Light On Headlights
The Prius’s headlights allowed visibility for up to 387 feet, which would enable a driver to identify a pedestrian, obstacle, or bicyclist in enough time to stop and avoid an accident even if traveling at 70 miles per hour.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the headlights on the BMW 3 series. Those lights only illuminated up to 128 feet, just over one-third of the acceptable distance of 330 feet. This means the car would only have time to stop if it were traveling 35 miles per hour or slower in order to avoid an accident.
Why is the gap so large between the best and the worst?
The answer to why the performance varies so broadly is due not only to the bulb's type or brightness but has to do with placement, reflectors, and lens pairings. The same bulb in different vehicles can have wildly different visibility results.
Interestingly, price point for the vehicle is not a good indicator of headlight capacity. The Honda Accord halogen headlights tested as "acceptable" while Mercedes-Benz lights were "poor."
Even as technologically more advance LED and high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs become more popular, results are inconsistent.
So what can drivers do?
A good place for concerned drivers to start is by reviewing the IIHS results. Since there is no single bulb better than others or vehicle type or style, and no guarantee that investing in more expensive options will solve the problems, drivers are best served with knowledge.
In addition, by bringing this issue to light, the hope is that drivers will know they need to pay better attention in their nighttime driving and that pedestrians will also become aware of the issue for the sake of their own safety.
Drivers need to be cognizant of their responsibility to watch out for pedestrians, stop at crosswalks, pay attention to bicyclists, and essentially be certain they are driving distraction-free.
Pedestrians must also be aware of things they can do to ensure their own safety when walking in Seattle, especially when walking at night.
For more information about pedestrian safety in Seattle, check out our blog and if you ever sustain injuries in an accident, make sure you contact Max Meyers to discuss your legal options: 425-399-7000.