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Exclusive: Campaign Against “Blinding” Headlamps Takes Fight To California

Change.org petition to be funded by £2,500 legacy from late campaigner’s will

A campaign group calling for a ban on powerful headlamps on British roads is taking its fight to the United States in a “rear-guard” action against European legislators, motoring.co.uk can reveal.

The Lightmare.org campaign group is to launch an e-petition on the Change.org site calling for high-powered headlamps to be banned from the roads in California.

They hope that a change in legislation in California could prompt manufacturers to end what has been described as an attempt to “out-shine” each other with increasingly brighter headlamps.

Publicity for the petition is to be funded by a £2,500 legacy left by late anti-xenon headlamp campaigner and former British cab driver Ken Perham, who died in 2012.

Mr Perham’s campaign partner Roy Milnes told motoring.co.uk that repeated attempts to fight for legislation in the UK had failed because many of the laws in this country are effectively formulated via Europe.

He said: “We now hope that by campaigning for change in California, where road safety issues of this type are taken very seriously, we can fight a rear guard action against the people who decide the laws in Europe.

“If California was to ban use of increasingly powerful headlamps, manufacturers might finally do something about it.”

Call for a ban

Almost 4,600 motorists signed a previous UK online petition calling for a ban on the headlamps which are now routinely being fitted to modern cars.

Originally fitted to more expensive vehicles, High-Intensity Discharge lights are now becoming commonplace.

While there are clear benefits for motorists whose cars are fitted with HiD or B-Xenon lights, even those who have them fitted to their own cars say that they can be dazzled by them when approaching vehicles which also use them.

Manufacturers are now starting to trial laser-powered headlamps, prompting concerns that headlamps are going to get even brighter.

Lightmare.org is a worldwide organisation backed by volunteers campaigning for an end to the use of increasingly high powered lighting on motor vehicles.

Highway Code

Lightmare claim that powerful headlamps could contravene the Highway Code, which states that drivers MUST NOT use any lights in a way that would dazzle or cause discomfort to other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

We’re interested to know what you think. To vote go here:

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has previously said that there is no evidence that high power lights distract drivers.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, SMMT Chief Executive Paul Everitt said that the use of lamp-levelling technology ensured that they were safe to use and said that they were particularly important on poorly lit roads to enable drivers to identify hazards.

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Dunno about being too powerful (which some are) how about addressing the drivers whose headlights are badly adjusted or worse still when only a percentage of them are working! Offside headlight out used to be known as suicide lights.

if in a sports car even on coming dipped beams from white van man look like high beam.also a lot of dipped beams are not adjusted correctly.lazy drivers of service garagages

what the motor manufactures DONT take into account is that the older you become the eyes muscles slow down and cannot react as quickly as younger eyes, thus bright lights are very painful to oncoming drivers.

Totally agree the ones without working lights should be sorted. I have recently followed several cars that have only the 3rd brake light working. A lot of so called drivers these days just point a shoot.

HID lights aid visibility and road safety. It's the drivers with poorly adjusted or missing headlamps that should be targeted.

^The highest priority should be for the highways / councils to adequately light our very poorly lit roads and it would not be necessary to drive in the towns with headlamps lit. It used to work until the street lighting was drastically reduced or removed

Not so sure about headlights. A greater effect could probably be obtained by enforcing rules about not using foglights when it's not foggy though in past few years it's become harder to tell if those annoyingly bright lights underneath headlights, many people have on are supposed to be fog lights or extremely bright sidelights

I remember reading many years ago in a motoring magazine that in the 21st century headlamp dazzle would be a thing of the past as all vehicles would be made with polarized headlamps and windscreens that would eliminate any dazzle in the same way as a polarizing filter on a camera filters out dazzle from the sun!

the people with poorly adjusrted lights should be fined or points on threr licence

I find that modern cars with tiny indicators buried in their headlamp clusters are more of a danger, how many times have I had to stop suddenly because I cant see the car coming towards me is indicating....?If there is a problem with high power headlights its poor adjustment.

The new headlights are fantastic and they work well. if you are going over a hill or up hill then of course the lights will blind but then so will other lights. What exactly are these people suggesting in replacing the high tech lights?!

The problem is those who drive on side lights (parking lights) alone. It should not be beyond the car industry to wire a vehicle in such a way as to activate the headlights as soon as the ignition is switched on, making is impossible to drive on parking lights alone. Also, many drivers do not realist that daytime running lights only operate at the from of the vehicle - so although the from of the car is shown, the rear is not.

uk lighting law is badly outdated..... it requires lamps to be of certain (or between) stated wattages.... eg 5 to 7WATT for sidelights and 35 to 65 WATT for headlights... my LED sidelights are 3 times brighter than the best filament types and are ILLEGAL because they only use 1/15 the required wattage.... I have an experimental set of LED headlamp units... at the required wattage (55W for a dipped beam) they are 5 times as bright... DOUBLE HIDs.... we need LUMEN specifications NOT watts

do many accidents happen as a result of drivers being dazzled? I suspect that powerful headlights avoid more accidents than they cause.

I support a Lumens limit , as suggested , thats a fair system, bring it in straight away, forget europe, we will be leaving them soon.Lets get back to sensible.55w halogen , but be allowed upto 4 lamps on dipped beam.

People drive at night to the performance of their headlights. Consequently there are more serious crashes as a result of these powerful headlights.

properly adjusted headlights generally do not dazzle; however badly adjusted lights do-- regardless of lumens or wattage

Lamp levelling technology may be OK - unfortunately roads are not level. Of course H.Code says if dazzled then slow down or stop?

I'm not sure that the brightness of the lights themselves is the fault here, or at least not entirely. Is it the headlamp adjustment, are some people inadvertently, or just plain indifferently, using full beam rather than dipped? Is the height of so many vehicles, notably 4 x 4's, just as significant a factor? I don't know. One thing is for sure...increasingly, it doesn't matter how much I indicate a problem by flashing my dipped headlights or rear fog lamps, I have to avert my eyes to oncoming traffic or blank my rear view mirror in order to avoid being blinded, let alone dazzled.

It is not the brightness that is of major concern, it's the angle at which they are set. In dipped form they should illuminate the road in front, not the surrounding treeline. Being dazzled by oncoming drivers, concentration is lost and the sight of both near and offside markings. There is a law regarding the correct angle, but is it enforced; I doubt it.

I don't have a problem with high powered lights, but they should be properly adjusted and not left on main beam. Seeing other vehicles is not a problem, but seeing through the bright lights to avoid a jaywalker is difficult. I hate 2 things: Cars parked facing oncoming traffic with their headlights on and people sitting at traffic lights with their foot on the brake AFTER someone has pulled up behind them. The bright brake lights feel like they burn into my eyes.

HID lights fitted by OEM's are not the problem, aftermarket kits and increased wattage bulbs fitted into headlights that were not designed for the higher power are the cause of the problem. Also, badly adjusted and aligned lights with the higher power bulbs are potentially dangerous in their dazzling effects.

At one time the maximum power of car headlights was 75watts each unit.Has that regulation changed or are the gas-discharge headlamps now fitted or available as extras on cars within the limit?

more should be done to stop the "one eyed monsters" with one headlight out which makes the one remaining brighter to cause dazzle

About time. A problem compounded by the fact that drivers in general have not a clue about the lighting laws. Ban high level stop lights too; designed to dazzle especially as most drivers keep their foot on the brake at all times except when it is on the throttle.

Any poorly aligned headlamps, regardless of power and misaligned front fogs (used as driving lights) are a pain for on-coming motorists and they have been around for ever. A driver can avert their eyes to the nearside roadside and still drive safely for the few seconds that it takes for those cars to pass.A far bigger problem,especially in fog are the cars that have only one headlamp working and may the appearance as a motor cycle and, and are even a bigger danger on narrow roads for that reason.And on the subject of poor visibility, idiots that drive their cars on day running lights or parking lights (side lights) are a far bigger danger than any car with high power headlights.

i do not have a problem with the brighter lights, but the fools that do not adjust them properly and dont dip there full beam, are they not advised during there driving lessons how to use there headlights.

High Intensity Lights are bad enough when both approaching cars are straight and level;how often does that apply. If the oncoming car is coming up hill, going over a bump, or coming round a bend, the effect is literally blinding.

It's badly adjusted headlamps that dazzle whether xenon or not! Bright headlamps are necessary on our poorly maintained rural roads where white lining is worn away and practically invisible. Properly adjusted xenons throw a helpful beam up the left margin of the road without dazzling on-coming traffic.

Way too many Tonka Truck style vehicles on the road, with overbrigt lights at eye level relative to a normal car. Ban these type of car other than for farm or industrial use. Also idiot cyclists with bright blue flashing front light need charging under the anti dazzle laws, many of these idiots hace thier light pointing dead ahead so they are of no aid to the cyclist themselves. Flashing red lights right under the seat are bad enough making them like mobile baboon backsides. All of these things are a distraction and therefore a danger.

No problem with bright lights, bug they need to be properly adjusted. As a motorcyclist In wet weather undipped or badly adjusted headlights are a nightmare. Also, any driver using their rear fog lights in any condition other than fog, should be fined, as they are risking a rear end collision because a driver behind did not see their brake lights come on.I live in the US at the moment - driver training here is a joke and they either drive with no lights or main beams only! They seem not to know that the A on the light switch us for auto lights.

Too bright headlights are bad enough, but ill-mannered drivers who use front fog lights in clear visibility are far more of a problem.

Lamp levelling technology may be used in vehicles. But, if that is the dial that drivers can change the angle of headlamps, either up or down, then it's only effective if drivers don't actually use it and keep the setting on zero.

Better brighter lights are the way forward but only for proper headlamps with the necessary controls. A lot of young drivers are retrofitting HID lights into cars not designed to take them causing glare and dazzling other drivers. Although this is illegal it should also be an MOT failure. Proper OEM HID have a number of safeguards to prevent dazzle with automatic levelling (no little wheel) and proper shutters to block light out

We had fog in my part of the UK on Saturday. Didn't see anyone using front or rear fog lights. But if it had been a bit cloudy in daylight, they'd have all had them on. And yet, you never see or hear of the police busting anyone for unnecessary use of said lights.

There is no need for these new bright lights nor is there any need for front and rear foglights to be used in good visibility conditions.There is also the problem caused by drivers who do not know how or are too lazy to use their handbrake when stopped at traffic lights dazzeling the driver behind.

Bright headlights and those not aligned properly cause a blinding glare in the rear view mirror of the car ahead whuch is downright dangerous. The times I have had to tip my rear view up in order to avoid the dazzle hightened by by glasses is too often. These headlights should be banned forthwith.

Bi-Xenon headlights are not that bright, just more akin to daylight. Confusion abounds does it not? The average English motorist does not use appropriate lights, in fog, heavy rain, snow and other comprised situations, you should use rear fog guard lights. Front fog lights are anathema, use your headlights please. Modern headlights with automatic levelling &etc are seriously more safe than driving behind a set of suspect Halogen beams despite what Road (un)safety campaigners might tell you. Where do we find these anti safety people?

If the output [lumens] and not the input [watts] was controlled by legislation then there would be some sense in imposing such legislation..

Different people have very different levels of sensitivity to light. Very bright lights can completely blind oncoming drivers when bright vehicle goes over speed bumps or is approaching over a hill or bridge. Roadworks arc lights can also be very dangerous, as can the totally unneccesary intensity of multiple flashing lighhts on police vehicles.

The official position is that good reflector design and self levelling prevents dazzle from HID headlights.Good reflectors concentrate the beam preventing stray light but concentrate the intensity of the lightbeam where it does point. Self levelling should prevent dazzle on level roads but do nothing on undulating roads. Simply even correctly adjusted lights will zap other road users at times. Power (lumens) has to be limited to control the degree of dazzle. Preventing dazzle entirely is impossible.

There are far bigger issues,like day time running lights (stupid) they're becoming like headlights and they draw your attention from the road ahead.Not entering junctions safely,crossing lane lines particularly at roundabouts,speedsters tearing up behind you then sitting on your tail even when the road is clear, causing tailbacks and having the 3rd vehicle having to overtake 2 motors,hogging the middle of the road at junctions preventing drivers from turning left/right causing more tailbacks....

It's the idiots with their lights adjusted to point at the sky who need tackling. There is nothing worse than one of these tools driving on your bootlid illuminating the whole car interior and blinding you via the mirrors..... If only the police would slap a big fine on them!

I agree. Although HID lights are dazzling, an even bigger problem is the idiots who drive with their fog lights on ALL the time, sometimes coupled with just their sidelights instead of their headlights for some bizarre, unknown reason...Another problem is morons who buy 'off road' bulbs from Halfords, eBay or similar and then fit them to road going vehicles...Some think they're clever removing them at MoT time, then putting them straight back on again after the test...

daytime lights why not at the rear as well if a car needs light on in the day why so the on coming car can see you !! if you cant see a object 12 feet long in daylight without lights you should not pass your driving test what was wrong with the old rule headlight on when no street lights Mercedes and bmw's and audi's are the worst offender whats sad the drivers of these vehicles don't even kbow there blinding oncoming traffic cos oncoming traffic isn't blinding them

Immediate action is required in the UK to curb this nuisance. Apart from blinding drivers of oncoming vehicles it is a downright hazard and can lead to head-on collisions. Some drivers are not aware that a headlight can be dipped. The rule of thumb with regard to speed during the hours of darkness or night driving is accelerate only as far as you can see. It stands to reason that a main beam will encourage speeding. Let common sense prevail. Legislation must prevent manufacturers trying to get an edge on their competitors by equipping their cars with powerful headlights and using it as a marketing extra or feature.

It's all well and good talking about "self levelling" systems. All I know is that come dark nights in winter, more often than not I'm going to be dazzled by cars coming towards me. And then for good measure, I'll have my retinas burned away by the good folk who no longer use the handbrake to hold their car at a standstill but use the footbrake.

I don't really think headlamps currently fitted to vehicles in the UK are a problem, except tractor headlamps which are often very close together and, it would seem, permanently pointing straight ahead. It is the angle which may be more of a problem and some manufacturers supply vehicles where the beams are incorrectly aligned, and this is often not picked up until the first MOT comes around. I once bought a new Renault, and sometimes got flashed by others. It was not until the first MOT that we discovered the problem was that although it was right hand drive, it was fitted with lamps which dipped to the right!

The bright lights are great for the driver and I have less problem with dazzle from these sort of lights than from badly adjusted halogen lights. The beam spread from the xenon lights are flatter and have a wider spread, such that they do not need adjusting when going on the continent. By the way, drivers of automatic cars need to keep their foot on the brake when stationary.

as a regular daily driver day and night i can say that the problems are being caused by people retro fitting older cars and motorcycles with HID lamps which were never designed to be used in them. modern cars and motorcycles have very good lighting but custom fitting them to older cars is a bad idea, the resulting glare is really uncomfortable as is the choice of colour temperature, for instance fitting a bmw with 8000k lights is just an attempt to make other people think you might be a police car! there needs to be tighter regulation on HID sales, after all you still don't see HID kits in Halfords, only on Ebay.