Home » Headlights Are Too Damn Bright And Nissan Has A Solution

Headlights Are Too Damn Bright And Nissan Has A Solution

Nissan Headlights Ts
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It used to be that headlights were pretty okay. They mostly illuminated the road, and unless somebody was using their high beams inappropriately, they wouldn’t cause you any real grief. Humans love making things “better,” though, and headlights were no exception. Today, we have magnificent LED lamps that illuminate the road like the Sun God just drank a quarter-gallon of red cordial. The only problem is, sometimes today’s mega-bright headlights are a real pain in the eyes for other road users. Everybody’s talking about it, and Nissan, at least, is trying to do something about it.

From Nissan’s standpoint, the big problem is that brighter headlights are sending more light into the lane of oncoming traffic, causing excessive glare for people driving the other way. The company is now designing its LED headlights to cut down on this glare while still maintaining excellent illumination of the road ahead. The idea is to still get the benefit of the greater energy efficiency, compactness, and brightness of LED technology, while counteracting the drawbacks.

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Nissan’s idea is to create LED headlights with an asymmetrical beam pattern with an “anti-glare notch” cut out where opposing traffic would usually be. It’s not exactly a new idea, as the basic concept has been long applied to traditional headlights, too. In any case, this cuts the brightness of the part of the headlight beam seen by oncoming traffic, enabling the car to still be visible to other road users without dazzling them. The beam pattern is created by controlling how the LED light sources themselves are directed, and by using light barriers built into the headlight housing as well. It’s also worth noting that, due to the asymmetrical nature of the beam pattern, the headlight design would have to be swapped left-to-right for countries that drive on the opposite side of the road.

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“We have the ability to carve out that area of the oncoming lane with everything around it being bright and the inside being super dark,” says Brad Chisholm, a Nissan engineer on the Lights, Mirrors, and Wipers team. “We’re able to push the limits using LEDs.” The requirement for anti-glare notches is usually enshrined in road regulations, but it’s possible to achieve better-defined cutouts with LEDs, according to Nissan.

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For what it’s worth, Nissan doesn’t just expect you to take its word as gospel. It notes that in tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, both the Nissan Rogue and Murano scored top marks for their headlights. Beyond their excellent illumination performance, both on straightaways and curves, the headlights never exceeded glare limits. The IIHS measures glare at a height of 3 feet and 7 inches from the ground, to replicate the sight position of a driver in an oncoming lane. Notably, the agency does not adjust the aim of headlights, instead testing the vehicles as delivered by a dealer—noting that most owners don’t take the time to adjust their vehicle’s headlights.

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LED headlights are now standard across much of Nissan’s range, but not all of it.

Notably, though, not every Nissan model was so lauded. Models like the LED-equipped Altima and Ariya still secured good marks, and remained inside glare limits. The 2024 Nissan Frontier, however, was rated poorly, thanks primarily to poor illumination, but also due to exceeding glare limits by 1.3% on certain types of turn. The Nissan Titan performed worse, generating excessive glare for oncoming drivers on straights and corners.

At worst, the IIHS found the Titan to exceed glare thresholds by 88.4%. Visibility was also found to be inadequate on curves, even with high beams enabled. In a twist, both vehicles were using halogen reflectors, rather than LEDs. Overall, few drivers would be surprised that a large, tall pickup would fare poorly in this regard. It suggests that the headlights issues we’re all tangling with aren’t entirely down to LED technology, but may have their roots in fundamental vehicle design.

Anti-glare blockers won’t fix every problem with modern headlights, of course, but it’s a start. Obviously, it doesn’t do a whole lot for drivers in lower regular cars that are getting blinded by the headlamps from SUVs and trucks coming up behind, for example. But any improvement is a boon for road safety, and that’s worthwhile to pursue.

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Overall, if you stood at a gas station asking drivers to sign a petition to sort out headlight glare, you wouldn’t be hurting for signatures. Proposals from automakers and testing by the IIHS is all well and good, but many would agree that it’s clearly not solving the problem. Better standards and more engineering effort could help cut glare to some degree, to be sure. Whether we’ll ever beat it for certain when jacked-up SUVs and pickups are sharing the road with regular cars remains to be seen.

Image credits: Nissan 

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bmw325_num99
bmw325_num99
3 months ago

Or maybe the USA could just allow and active anti-glare technology like Canada and Europe have

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzeFzQe-oe0

Ryanola
Ryanola
3 months ago

Headlights are not much of an issue for every SUV driver, but a huge penalty for people who drive normal cars. Living in CA, every other car is a Tesla and every Tesla has the lights adjusted directly into sedan drivers’ eyes. It’s getting bad with other manufacturers as well, so 80% of oncoming traffic is a reminder you didn’t join the SUV bandwagon of sheeple. Can we please get intelligent light regulations yesterday??

Isaac Fortner
Isaac Fortner
3 months ago

I haven’t noticed too many factory headlights causing excessive glare, but mostly from people putting cheap LED bulbs into housings designed for halogen bulbs.

Combine that with people lifting their ’96 F-250 and you have massive glare burning your retinas while ironically providing LESS beam throw than the halogens they started with.

sentinelTk
sentinelTk
3 months ago

Dear automakers…..stop making your cars higher and higher and shoving the lights at the top of the beltline.

Also, didn’t US just last year approve the use of the dynamic laser (I think laser) lights that are used on high end cars in Europe? The ones where the light actually stops in areas like Nissan’s plan above? Looks like Nissans design is much more lo-tech, which is sometimes a good thing (meaning I don’t have to buy a loaded S-Class to get the tech).

Timbuck2
Timbuck2
3 months ago

I drive a full size van for work and the headlights are absolutely terrible with how dim they are. The funny part is that drivers of lower compact cars (especially 10th gen civics ) flash their lights at me constantly thinking I have my high beams on. Unfortunately, I’d say that a decent solution to this is that ugly new design trend with divorced headlights from the running lights. The headlights are so much lower so the glare is reduced. As a side note, the worst vehicle when it comes to always having glaring headlights is ford trucks. Chevy and Rams occasionally, but every single ford truck, especially the heavy duty ones, have insanely bad glare coming from their headlights. I think the base ones with the reflectors are even worse than the leds.

Turbeaux
Turbeaux
3 months ago
Reply to  Timbuck2

Trucks are so bad because the first thing anyone who buys one does is add a 1.5″-2″ levelling kit to the front. It’s cheap and easy, and they forget to spend a few minutes adjusting the headlight angle.

Brent Jatko
Brent Jatko
3 months ago

I remember the Cibie halogen headlights I had on my old car had a sharp cutoff to avoid blinding oncoming drivers.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
3 months ago

Yeah the US lighting regs desperately need updating as they are way out of date. I have found that yellow glasses are a game changer for night driving now. They really help with the glare and make things tolerable, even when you’re sitting lower than everything else in a BRZ.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
3 months ago

If the United States had swallowed its pride and fully adopted the international de facto ECE WP29 safety regulations a long time ago, we would never have this problem.

The FMVSS 108 allows more glare upward, which might be fine with dim tungsten incandescent bulbs when the FMVSS was enacted into the law in 1967. As the technology progressed to halogen, then HID, then LED, the FMVSS regulations are grossly outdated and need to be scrupped…

E Petry
E Petry
3 months ago

I still to this day don’t understand how Honda Accord LED headlights passed regulations. I’m blinded daily by the damned things and I have a fully tinted windshield.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
3 months ago

Now if Nissan could find a solution to all the Rogues and Altimas doing 80 on surface streets with no lights on.

I thought this was already a requirement? All of my HID and LED equipped cars have stepped beam patterns and most cars I’ve been in with incandescent bulbs do, too. hm. I’m other news, I recently put German market headlights in my Touareg and people at work tell me my bulbs are going out… they’re extremely bright, but don’t have the USDM “5% (?) must refract” fresnel lens bullshit, so when you’re standing above the cut-off, there’s nothing. They’re meant to light the road, not the sky, and they do it well.

Long_Time_Reader_First_Time_Poster
Long_Time_Reader_First_Time_Poster
3 months ago

I’m tempted to get the fanciest Euro lights for my Alltrack fore and aft. It would be expensive but likely worth it. That said I like the color temperature of the stock lights – and absolutely abhor the cold-to-absolutely-frigid color temperature of a lot of the LEDs on the road and on streetlights. Most of the streetlights in my city if not all have been converted to LED and I swear they’re all Painful Purple and don’t really illuminate anything. Something slightly cooler than the old sodium lights would be perfect, but what we have…. ain’t it.

Dan Pritts
Dan Pritts
3 months ago

I’ve noticed a lot of purple streetlights lately. They’re just awful.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
3 months ago

How is this different than the various matrix LED solutions the Europeans have come up with? Volvo’s and Mercedes “Pixel” LEDs (and possibly future lasers?!) are amazing in concept and largely effective in practice.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
3 months ago
Reply to  Box Rocket

Those are active lighting systems – They dim certain areas of the lighting array when the system senses oncoming traffic, etc.
And they’re not allowed in the US because slow-moving regulatory agencies.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

I haven’t seen it yet, but my bil told me their new Polestar2 actively cuts out led segments to leave a dark block around oncoming cars. Sounds really cool, but now I’m wondering if theirs actually has it, or if he just read about it…..

Ok: that is slick in a video, and it seems you’re correct: both US & Canadian (Canuck’s getting shafted again because they’re neighbors!) models don’t have it enabled. Saw mention of using an Orbit to turn the functionality on. I’ll have to ask if he’s done that yet.
I appreciate you bringing that up

S Chen
S Chen
3 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Many high end cars have the hardware for matrix (adaptive) dimming lights, including MB, Audi, Polestar, BMW, Tesla, etc. But none are allowed to be activated in the US due to regulations.

JumboG
JumboG
3 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

How much are those to replace? Headlights used to cost less than 10 bucks to replace. Co-worker needs to replace his Subaru headlight assembly because the DRLs aren’t working. Part alone is $600. This is a 6 year old car he’s going to have to blow 2 car payments of money to replace a LED cluster that’s not working. A non-functioning bulb should cost less than $10, and be easily accessible and replaceable.

Dan Pritts
Dan Pritts
3 months ago
Reply to  JumboG

Less than $10 means next to useless. I just paid over $50 for some halogens for the wife’s Cmax. But I agree with your overall point.

OTOH, IF (a big if) most vehicles’ lights last the life of the vehicle, then on average the replacement cost may be acceptable , although a bitch when you’re the one replacing the module.

Last edited 3 months ago by Dan Pritts
JumboG
JumboG
3 months ago
Reply to  Dan Pritts

I’ll pay a little more for a headlight bulb, say $20, but in my co-workers case it wasn’t the main headlight, but the DRL light which is a separate (internally) bulb cluster.

I’m a C-Max owner too!

Dan Pritts
Dan Pritts
3 months ago
Reply to  JumboG

Total sales failure, practical, kind of a zippy drive around town. Painted brown and put in a manual and it’s an autopian-mobile

JumboG
JumboG
3 months ago
Reply to  Dan Pritts

That’s why I got mine. No one has ever heard of them, so even on the used lots they weren’t selling because no one knew to look for them. I got my C-Max for the same price as a Prius that would have been like 5-6 years older. Then, it’s been the most reliable car I have ever driven long term.

Dan Pritts
Dan Pritts
3 months ago
Reply to  JumboG

My wife bought hers new. The sales guy at the local dealer wouldn’t show her one, which their ads said was on the lot. Kept pushing escapes.

We bought elsewhere.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
3 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

Volvo advertises them on their U.S. website. So maybe it’s a state-restricted thing?

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