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Government to investigate car headlight glare as drivers report being dazzled

Almost nine-in-ten drivers think car headlights are too bright and now the Government says it’s looking into the matter

Full-beam car headlights shining from a distance

The UK Government has announced that it will launch an investigation into glare from car headlights. This follows a survey published earlier this year that revealed nine-in-ten (89 per cent) drivers feel car headlights are too bright.

In case you need a bit of context, the RAC released a study released in January 2024 surveyed 2,000 drivers and found that not only do the “overwhelming majority” of drivers feel that the problem of headlight glare is a prevalent one, but roughly 85 per cent perceive the issue as getting worse.

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In response to the RAC investigation, as well as a petition which, at the time of writing, has over 10,000 signatures, the Government released an official statement saying: “Recognising the need for further evidence [regarding headlight glare], we intend to commission independent research shortly.”

So what’s causing this sudden loss of nighttime road visibility? As we explained in our original story on the RAC survey, one of the primary causes could be headlights that haven’t been aligned properly. According to a Freedom of Information Request submitted to the DVSA, as many as 5 per cent of UK cars  – the equivalent of 1.6 million – failed their MoT between 2019 and 2023 due to misaligned headlights.

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Many headlights nowadays are also of the LED variety; these are typically much brighter than standard halogen or xenon headlights and consume much less energy. They usually last much longer too, although they can be expensive to replace.

Another reason could be the growing trend towards SUVs; 62 per cent of drivers surveyed said 4x4s and other raised vehicles are partly to blame for headlight glare, given their high ride height means their headlights are typically mounted higher than those of ‘normal’ cars.

Since 2013 an average of 280 collisions per year have been reported in which dazzling headlights were a contributory factor, resulting in six or more deaths annually. As you can expect, this has resulted in calls for change, with 81 per cent of the RAC survey’s respondents saying more needs to be done to tackle the problem.

Speaking on behalf of the RAC, Rod Dennis applauded the government’s response: “The fact the Government has listened to drivers’ concerns and heeded our calls to examine the complex issue of headlight glare in more detail marks a real turning point.

“An independent study provides a golden opportunity for the Government and industry to get to the bottom of the problem, identify the factors involved and map out a way forward.” He continued, “We’re aware of regulatory changes being made at an international level that will hopefully make a difference in many years to come, but are concerned that these alone may not be enough to address headlight dazzle.”

Are car headlights too bright? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section...

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Consumer reporter

Tom is Auto Express' Consumer reporter, meaning he spends his time investigating the stories that matter to all motorists - enthusiasts or otherwise. An ex-BBC journalist and Multimedia Journalism graduate, Tom previously wrote for partner sites Carbuyer and DrivingElectric and you may also spot him throwing away his dignity by filming videos for the Auto Express social media channels.

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