NHTSA wants your opinion on headlight glare issues

| 9/27/2001

In response to numerous consumer complaints about nighttime glare from headlights and auxiliary lights on motor vehicles, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Wednesday issued a formal request for public comment on possible steps the agency might take to reduce glare.

"New technologies allow headlighting to be more robust than in the past. While such technologies can be beneficial for drivers, we must be certain the public is protected from high levels of glare," said Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. "Our studies of this issue may lead to improvements in safety, which is President Bush's highest transportation priority."

Within the last two years, NHTSA has received numerous complaints about nighttime glare from three types of headlights mounted on the front of motor vehicles: "high intensity discharge" (HID) lights that appear blue, auxiliary lights such as "fog lamps" and headlights mounted high on various light trucks (sport utility vehicles, pickups and vans).

In its notice of request for comments, NHTSA has posed 46 questions to the driving public as well as manufacturers and other interested parties. These questions cover a wide array of issues related to the safety, use and performance of various headlights.

"We expect that our request for comments will elicit useful information that will lead to better lights with less glare," said Dr. Jeffrey W. Runge, NHTSA administrator. As expressed through complaints to NHTSA, some drivers report that the light from HID headlights seems blinding, even though the intensity of such lamps does not exceed federal standards. Some drivers say that "fog lamps" are producing troublesome glare and are often used unnecessarily on clear nights. In addition, some drivers of passenger cars find the higher-mounted headlights used on SUVs, pickup trucks and vans to be very glaring.

Those wishing to have their comments considered must provide them by Dec. 1, 2001, when the docket (NHTSA-2001-8885) will close. After that, the agency will review the comments to determine what further actions should be taken.

Comments may be submitted in writing to the Department of Transportation's Docket Management Section, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street S.W., Washington, DC 20590. It is requested, though not required, that two copies of the comments be provided. The docket section is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. Members of the public who are providing comments should cite the docket number: NHTSA-2001-8885.

In addition, comments may be submitted electronically by logging onto the docket management system web site at http://dms.dot.gov. Click on "Help" or "Electronic Submission" to obtain instructions for filing the document electronically. The electronic docket number is 8885. The notice of request for comments is posted at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/rulings/glare.html.