nobody is going to be dazzled, high beam
is a major safety element.
30th January 2006.
No doubt that low beam has improved
considerably over the years. According to headlight
manufacturer Hella, it offers today twice the visibility
that was obtainable some fifty years ago.
Yet, no car driver should do without
using high beam. Used correctly, it is a piece of safety
equipment, not an impoliteness or a compulsion.
Scientific investigations in the USA
prove that people often drive with low beam even when
there is no other car to be seen far and wide.
Researchers from the University of
Michigan* observed this behaviour in around 30 percent of
vehicles on a country road at night.
When oncoming traffic appeared now and
again, the number of those not interested in using high
beam increased to even 50 percent.
In contrast to this, the lighting
specialists from Hella advise car drivers to make active
use of high beam, especially in country areas and forests
which are abundant with animals. High beam offers there a
considerable benefit in terms of visibility and safety.
A driver who on winding roads or before
the tops of hills sees only the gleam of light from a car
and not the car itself does not yet have reason to dip his
or her headlights. No-one will be dazzled in such a
As soon as the oncoming traffic has
gone past, high beam can be switched on again. This
prevents driving into a “black hole”.
When overtaking, the correct moment to
switch over to spotlights is when the relevant cars are at
the same level. Both car drivers then benefit from the
greater range of the light, unless of course, other
oncoming cars are visible on other lanes.
In comparison with low beam, high beam
offers at least two-and-a-half times the visibility.
Those people who make use of high beam
often will notice that it does not disturb anyone. In
future, it will even be possible to let intelligent
electronics take care of switching between high and low
beam . A camera-controlled high-beam assistant which
changes automatically from low beam to high beam and back
is already in series use (BMW
offers this option on some models). Naturally, the
driver can intervene at any time and switch over
See also the topic about the effect
of dirt on light efficiency and dazzling.
headlamp usage on unlighted rural roadways. The University
of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Ann Arbor,
Michigan, February 2003 (Report-No. UMTRI-2003-2).