Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Bright White Auto Headlights

  • Please log in to reply
18 replies to this topic

#1 D.T.

D.T.

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 166
  • Joined: 09 Jan 2012
  • Loc: Oregon

Posted 19 May 2017 - 09:55 PM

I've been noticing, more and more, the bright white lights (sometimes even bluish) that are appearing on cars.  I would estimate that now, up to a third of cars have bright white headlights.  Obviously, this contributes to light pollution.  It even contributes, in a negative way, to traffic safety.  These are absolutely blinding to oncoming traffic.  In fact, I've noticed that those lights are blinding even in the daytime.  And this is something I would have thought is not possible a few years ago.  Not only are these lights much brighter than older lights absolutely.  But my eyes recover much more slowly with white than yellow.

 

I don't know if the problem is mostly because manufacturers are putting these lights on new cars now, or if these are aftermarket modifications.  I suspect some of each.

 

I have no idea about what can be done about this, if anything.  Furthermore, if people don't care that their headlights may be blinding approaching drivers, potentially causing fatal accidents, how are they going to care that Astronomers can't see the Milky Way, or that birds will fly into buildings?

 

Comments?

 


  • leveye and Augustus like this

#2 leveye

leveye

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2742
  • Joined: 06 Feb 2013
  • Loc: Central Oregon Coast

Posted 19 May 2017 - 11:14 PM

I've never understood why they do this. It's a real problem.


  • Augustus likes this

#3 t_image

t_image

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1465
  • Joined: 22 Jul 2015

Posted 20 May 2017 - 01:41 AM

Most of what you describe are due to LEDs, that are slanted "blue" in color. It is a bit cheaper to make the "white" LEDs with a more blue color, and the LEDs take less current, and last longer, as well as being annoyingly brighter.

The experience you describe with the blindingness and recovery are due to the shorter blue wavelength for sure.

 

Lots of writing already about those blue lights and its effect on humans.

Ironically, one positive benefit maybe those short wavelength bright LEDs may keep sleepy drivers more awake as it messes with the brain melatonin levels, etc.

https://www.washingt...60ce_story.html

Of course it's not good for wildlife or fireflies, mosquito eating bats, etc.....

But its like the old days of burning coal unfiltered into the air, dumping toxic waste into drinking water ponds, burying nuclear waste in steel drums that only remain intact for 50 years, licking paint brushes with radium paint, etc. We do some stupid stuff with technology until we realize later it wasn't such a good idea.....


Edited by t_image, 20 May 2017 - 01:42 AM.

  • Augustus likes this

#4 pstarr

pstarr

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4083
  • Joined: 17 Sep 2004
  • Loc: NE Ohio

Posted 20 May 2017 - 07:42 AM

Living in the country where there are no street lights make these especially annoying. Your eyes are much more used to the dark and the sudden brightness of those lights hurts the eyes. I give them the brights back to let them know I don't appreciate being blinded whether the car came with them or they are aftermarket add ons.


  • Augustus likes this

#5 BrooksObs

BrooksObs

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1894
  • Joined: 08 Dec 2012

Posted 20 May 2017 - 08:20 AM

Indeed, the relatively recent addition of blindingly brilliant LED vehicle headlights is a significant problem and it appears that virtually all the auto manufacturers are going for them on the latest entries.

 

From a driving point of view the bluish-white LEDs do admittedly extend the driver's visibility range. However, to the on-coming vehicles their level of illumination can be virtually blinding. Even at low-beam setting they far exceed the brilliance of older high-beams! I suppose that for urban residents, with their streetlights and restricted lower speeds, the impact isn't really that critical. However, like the previous poster I live in a rural area without any street illumination on the roadways, or highways. Meeting an on-coming vehicle on a two lane road at night at 55 mph can totally blind both drivers for several seconds...with potentially disastrous results.

 

More to the amateur astronomer's point of view the ever increasing use of the LEDs is adding a new layer of light pollution to suburban and rural area skies, ones that had for a time seem stabilized in sky brightness. Just as I had predicted here several years back when talk of how great the introduction of LED illumination would be for the hobby, exactly the opposite is rapidly coming to pass...the same way as was the case with all the outdoor illumination that was heralded as the savior of the hobby and dark skies in the past, beginning with Mercury Vapor streetlamps.

 

BrooksObs


Edited by BrooksObs, 20 May 2017 - 11:30 AM.


#6 csa/montana

csa/montana

    Den Mama

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 90841
  • Joined: 14 May 2005
  • Loc: montana

Posted 20 May 2017 - 08:37 AM

"I give them the brights back to let them know I don't appreciate being blinded whether the car came with them or they are aftermarket add ons."

 

Two blinded drivers is no solution.


  • Kfrank likes this

#7 pstarr

pstarr

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4083
  • Joined: 17 Sep 2004
  • Loc: NE Ohio

Posted 20 May 2017 - 10:14 AM

"I give them the brights back to let them know I don't appreciate being blinded whether the car came with them or they are aftermarket add ons."

 

Two blinded drivers is no solution.

It's a quick flash, like hey, your brights are on, not a blinding steady light like he's giving me. The guy needs to know his lights are not appreciate. I see cars behind me doing the same thing so it's not just me that is bothered. Maybe the guy will mention to the dealer that he keeps getting flashed because his lights are too bright. If no one ever lets him know they are bothersome, for sure noting will ever be done about it. He will go on thinking how great he can see at night. I will go on being blinded by these Euro contraptions.



#8 Kendahl

Kendahl

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 712
  • Joined: 02 Feb 2013

Posted 20 May 2017 - 12:24 PM

Unlike old fashioned sealed beams, the headlights on a modern vehicle are a custom design specific to it. Their performance depends on the skill of the engineer and on the constraints he faced integrating them into the vehicle's overall design. Consumer Reports and IIHS are quite critical of the headlights on many current vehicles. A few are very good and a significant number are pretty bad. My own experience has been that the tungsten driving lights I had 45 years ago were far superior to the halogen headlights on my late 1990s Subaru. The HID headlights on my Infiniti are fantastic. The low beam pattern is very wide with a sharp cutoff to keep it below eye level for oncoming drivers.

 

As far as their contribution to light pollution is concerned, headlights are moving point sources. I think they most closely resemble street lights controlled by proximity switches. When a vehicle leaves, it takes its light pollution with it.


Edited by Kendahl, 20 May 2017 - 12:35 PM.


#9 bumm

bumm

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1771
  • Joined: 07 Jan 2011
  • Loc: Iowa

Posted 20 May 2017 - 01:25 PM

Those bright blue lights are really annoying when you meet them on county roads.  It would seem to me they wouldn't penetrate fog, etc, as well as longer wavelengths either.

                                                                                                                               Marty



#10 sg6

sg6

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1941
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2010
  • Loc: Norfolk, UK.

Posted 20 May 2017 - 02:56 PM

They have been around here for a number of years, guess easily 15+.

A lot are HID headlights (High Intensity Discharge), think these tend to give the "blue" effect, actually it is a prism effect of the light splitting, just the splitting is not that good so you get the blue then the rest merge into white again.

 

LED lights have not been that common so far, although a few advertise them. Not sure if they are better or worse. For some reason I suspect better, not sure why.

 

One aspect is inside the car is a little dial that allows the driver to tilt the headlights up or down and it is fairly common that they move them up - which is actually not the purpose of the dial, which is there to tilt them down.

 

The idea is you set them to a normal height with the dial set at the highest, then when you attach a trailer or similar the back gets pushed down, the front goes up and you use the dial to wind them down again to the correct height. But I guess less then one in a thousand actually do that.

 

Not sure what I think of them, do not have them on mine, never used a car with them, but I prefer to illuminate the road in front of me as much as possible. The roads and users here are a bit manic, the US ones are actually not as bad, but in a way different users.

 

From the history of them here all I can say is "Get used to them, there are not going to go away." But it is likely a case of them being correctly adjusted.



#11 jwheel

jwheel

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1462
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Fort Davis TX

Posted 21 May 2017 - 10:10 AM

They annoy me.



#12 D.T.

D.T.

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 166
  • Joined: 09 Jan 2012
  • Loc: Oregon

Posted 21 May 2017 - 10:45 AM

Dark country roads are a worst case when your eyes are dark adapted and all of a sudden you get these brights.  But as I said, I've noticed them to be blinding even in the daytime, which is astounding.

 

One thing I want to ask though.  At some point, I'm going to get a new car, as my Subaru Wagon is now 21 years old.  Can I avoid getting a car which blinds other drivers and worsens light pollution?  I'd even consider after market some after markets which are, a bit dimmer, and shifted more toward the red end of the spectrum, if they were available.  But they probably aren't.  Is there anything I can do, when I buy a new car, to not join the blinding crowd?



#13 caveman_astronomer

caveman_astronomer

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1091
  • Joined: 18 Mar 2016

Posted 21 May 2017 - 10:56 AM

Dark country roads are a worst case when your eyes are dark adapted and all of a sudden you get these brights.  But as I said, I've noticed them to be blinding even in the daytime, which is astounding.

 

One thing I want to ask though.  At some point, I'm going to get a new car, as my Subaru Wagon is now 21 years old.  Can I avoid getting a car which blinds other drivers and worsens light pollution?  I'd even consider after market some after markets which are, a bit dimmer, and shifted more toward the red end of the spectrum, if they were available.  But they probably aren't.  Is there anything I can do, when I buy a new car, to not join the blinding crowd?

It might help in some situations to watch out for this kind of thing:

 

http://www.stanleysu...ts-turn-off.htm

 

If this happens at a star party, you might wish you had practiced up on your J-turns.  smile.gif



#14 csa/montana

csa/montana

    Den Mama

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 90841
  • Joined: 14 May 2005
  • Loc: montana

Posted 21 May 2017 - 11:04 AM

Dark country roads are a worst case when your eyes are dark adapted and all of a sudden you get these brights.  But as I said, I've noticed them to be blinding even in the daytime, which is astounding.

 

One thing I want to ask though.  At some point, I'm going to get a new car, as my Subaru Wagon is now 21 years old.  Can I avoid getting a car which blinds other drivers and worsens light pollution?  I'd even consider after market some after markets which are, a bit dimmer, and shifted more toward the red end of the spectrum, if they were available.  But they probably aren't.  Is there anything I can do, when I buy a new car, to not join the blinding crowd?

Good question.  Ask the dealership if the headlights are adjustable by the driver, and perhaps if different bulbs might be an option.



#15 D.T.

D.T.

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 166
  • Joined: 09 Jan 2012
  • Loc: Oregon

Posted 21 May 2017 - 11:56 AM

My new car purchase is at least a year away.  I have to wait until I can afford it.  But at this point, it may be pertinent to ask if anybody knows which new cars, or brands, are better choices to minimize light pollution, and not blind oncoming drivers.



#16 D.T.

D.T.

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 166
  • Joined: 09 Jan 2012
  • Loc: Oregon

Posted 21 May 2017 - 12:14 PM

 

Dark country roads are a worst case when your eyes are dark adapted and all of a sudden you get these brights.  But as I said, I've noticed them to be blinding even in the daytime, which is astounding.

 

One thing I want to ask though.  At some point, I'm going to get a new car, as my Subaru Wagon is now 21 years old.  Can I avoid getting a car which blinds other drivers and worsens light pollution?  I'd even consider after market some after markets which are, a bit dimmer, and shifted more toward the red end of the spectrum, if they were available.  But they probably aren't.  Is there anything I can do, when I buy a new car, to not join the blinding crowd?

Good question.  Ask the dealership if the headlights are adjustable by the driver, and perhaps if different bulbs might be an option.

 

Are there any cars or car brands being sold today that do better as far as light pollution goes?



#17 caveman_astronomer

caveman_astronomer

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1091
  • Joined: 18 Mar 2016

Posted 21 May 2017 - 01:31 PM

 

 

Dark country roads are a worst case when your eyes are dark adapted and all of a sudden you get these brights.  But as I said, I've noticed them to be blinding even in the daytime, which is astounding.

 

One thing I want to ask though.  At some point, I'm going to get a new car, as my Subaru Wagon is now 21 years old.  Can I avoid getting a car which blinds other drivers and worsens light pollution?  I'd even consider after market some after markets which are, a bit dimmer, and shifted more toward the red end of the spectrum, if they were available.  But they probably aren't.  Is there anything I can do, when I buy a new car, to not join the blinding crowd?

Good question.  Ask the dealership if the headlights are adjustable by the driver, and perhaps if different bulbs might be an option.

 

Are there any cars or car brands being sold today that do better as far as light pollution goes?

 

Here's a start, but several years out of date:

 

http://www.city-data...headlights.html

 

Look at fourth message, by "Ray."



#18 Kendahl

Kendahl

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 712
  • Joined: 02 Feb 2013

Posted 21 May 2017 - 01:47 PM

My new car purchase is at least a year away.  I have to wait until I can afford it.  But at this point, it may be pertinent to ask if anybody knows which new cars, or brands, are better choices to minimize light pollution, and not blind oncoming drivers.

IIHS studied headlight performance of quite a few different vehicles. Search for "IIHS headlight study". Another source is Consumer Reports.

 

Consider used vehicles. We just picked up a three year old Toyota Sienna all wheel drive van with 40k miles for 2/3 of the price of a new one. Our savings would pay for a well equipped, fair sized, premium Dob. The secret to avoiding a lemon is to pay for a pre-purchase inspection by a competent, trustworthy, independent mechanic. If you don't know one, there is a list by city on the web site for NPR's Car Talk.



#19 ImNewHere

ImNewHere

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 313
  • Joined: 29 Mar 2017
  • Loc: Nashville, IN

Posted Today, 12:47 PM

How about those super annoying LED light bars that many pickups around here seem to be getting. Those are far, far worse than LED headlights.




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.







Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics