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Becoming Enlightened: ADB headlights permitted for installation in the U.S.

Washington, D.C. — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ruled on Tuesday to allow OEMs to install adaptive driving beam (ADB) headlights on new vehicles in the U.S.

In its ruling, the NHTSA found that ADBs do in fact help prevent pedestrian and bicyclist-related crashes by improving a driver’s low-light visibility.

A clear conclusion could not be reached on the matter of glare, however, for which the NHTSA said it has not “has not established, and does not know of, a quantified relationship between glare dosage and crash risk.”

The NHTSA wrote in its final rule that “ADB systems are an improvement over ‘auto hi-beam’ technology currently available in the United States because they are capable of providing more illumination than a lower beam without increasing glare.

“When operating in automatic mode, instead of simply switching between the upper and lower beams, an ADB system is able to provide a dynamic, adaptive beam pattern that changes based on the presence of other vehicles or objects, providing less illumination to occupied areas of the road and more illumination to unoccupied areas of the road.”

The ruling cited 2012 data from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (now the Alliance for Automotive Innovation) which stated that 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred at night, and by 2016 had increased to 75 percent.

The Alliance also noted an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study that found pedestrian deaths in dark conditions increased 56 percent from 2009 to 2016.

The NHTSA added that “This final rule does not require manufacturers to provide ADB systems, but only specifies the requirements the systems must meet if equipped on vehicles.”

Adaptive headlights have long been a standard in Canada and Europe, however, in the U.S. there has been contention as to whether the technology conforms to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108.

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