IIHS shows massive lighting improvements since tests started
Higher-rated lights required to reach
Five years after starting to test automotive headlights, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that automakers are beginning to ditch inferior headlights for options that better illuminate the road (and not other drivers) in order to score higher on IIHS safety pick awards.
At least 10 automakers have improved their 2021 headlight offerings by either modifying or entirely dropping inferior choices, the IIHS says. That a reference to vehicles where higher-optioned models were fitted with lamps that performed well in the Institute’s testing while offering low-scoring lamps on lower-cost trim levels.
With no independent testing of headlights in the industry, the IIHS, best known for their crash testing, adopted headlight tests in 2016 to help combat that half of all fatal crashes in the US happen in the dark despite fewer miles travelled after dark. The first year of testing, only two of 95 models tested earned a good rating. To help speed things up, the IIHS made the test part of its Top Safety Pick+ award criteria for 2020.
“It’s common sense that quality headlights protect against nighttime and other low-light crashes,” says IIHS President David Harkey. “But even when manufacturers have offered good headlights, too often they were expensive add-ons that could be hard to find.”
For model year 2020, 85 of 185 models tested could be fitted with good-rated headlights. A massive improvement, but those lamps were standard on just eight. 42 2020 model year vehicles came with only good or acceptable lights.
To get the Top Safety Pick+ instead of just a Top Safety Pick award, The Audi A7, Honda Accord, Hyundai Palisade, Mazda CX-30, Nissan Altima, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, Volvo S60, Volvo XC40, and Volvo XC60 all eliminated or improved their poor or marginal lights to earn good or acceptable. Top Safety Pick testing also includes crash testing and front crash prevention testing scores. Four others, Acura RDX, Subaru Forester, Subaru Legacy, and Subaru Outback, offered headlight that offered good and acceptable ratings for 2020 and made good-rated lights standard for 2021.
So if the next time you’re on a dark road you wished for more light, or the next time you’re blinded by someone else’s low beams, check the IIHS list to find the vehicles that are the best lit.