Car headlights ‘dazzling’ drivers

The AOP has responded to an RAC survey, which finds that drivers believe modern headlights are putting motorists at risk


A new report from motoring services company, Royal Automobile Club (RAC), has revealed that 15% of drivers have been involved in a near miss after being dazzled by the headlights of other vehicles.

In its survey of over 2000 motorists, the RAC found that although the brightness of modern headlights has improved the vision of the driver using them, they are putting other motorists at risk.

A total of 65% of drivers of all ages said that they are regularly dazzled by oncoming traffic, or when looking in their rear-view mirrors, even when headlights are dipped.

Drivers also said that it can take them up to five seconds to see clearly again after being dazzled, which the RAC explained that for a car travelling at 60mph, it would have travelled 120m before its driver fully recovers.

In response to the survey, clinical and regulatory officer at the AOP, Farah Gatrad, said that headlights can cause ‘photostress,’ which may interfere with vision – causing glare, dazzle and visual discomfort for road users. 

“For those who have pre-existing cataract, or other eye disease, the ‘dazzling’ effect may be particularly pronounced and in some cases, could make recovery to normal vision slower,” Ms Gatrad explained.

“Optometrists are well placed to advise drivers on the measures they can take to reduce these effects, for example contact lenses or glasses with special coatings designed specifically to help reduce the effects of glare whilst driving,” she added.

Current headlights fitted in UK vehicles range from traditional halogen headlamps, to newer xenon, or high intensity discharge lights, and LED headlights.

The RAC survey found that 58% of motorists believe the brightness of modern headlights is putting drivers at risk.