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Rating for headlights of 31 vehicles raises safety concerns

ABR Staff Writer Published 31 March 2016

The Toyota Prius v is the only car which has got a good rating for headlights among 31 vehicles, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

A vehicle's price tag does not guarantee the quality of headlights, as many of the poor-rated headlights are fitted in luxury vehicles, the report found.

IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer David Zuby said: "If you're having trouble seeing behind the wheel at night, it could very well be your headlights and not your eyes that are to blame."

Among the 31 cars studied, 11 earned an acceptable, while nine were able to receive a marginal rating. Headlights for ten vehicles have been rated as poor.

The study comes in the wake of improvements in headlight technology. Automakers have started using high-intensity discharge (HID) or LED lamps, replacing traditional halogen lamps.

Usage of curve-adaptive headlights, which swivel according to steering input, is also becoming more widespread.

IIHS has a total of 85 headlight ratings for 31 vehicles, as they can be fitted with different headlights. The vehicles studied for report are 2016 models.

"The Institute is rating every possible headlight combination as it becomes available from dealers," it said.

The Prius v got a good rating only when fitted with LED lights and high-beam assist. So, to avail these headlights, consumers have to purchase the advanced technology package.

The Prius v earned a poor rating when the vehicle was equipped with regular halogen lights and without high-beam assist.

IIHS senior research engineer Matthew Brumbelow said: "The Prius v's LED low beams should give a driver traveling straight at 70 mph enough time to identify an obstacle on the right side of the road, where the light is best, and brake to a stop.

"In contrast, someone with the halogen lights would need to drive 20 mph slower in order to avoid a crash."

BMW 3 series with halogen lights earned a worst rating among the 44 headlight systems with a poor rating.

The Cadillac ATS, Kia Optima and Mercedes-Benz C-Class received a poor rating even when their headlights were fitted with adaptive low and high beams.

Honda Accord 4-door equipped with basic halogen lights is rated as acceptable.