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The Problem with Blue Headlights

The Problem with Blue Headlights
Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Have you ever found yourself struggling to keep your eyes open when a car with blue headlights approaches? You are not alone. Blue headlights increase visibility for their owner, but is it possible that they are endangering everyone else on the road? To find out, we need to understand the problem with blue headlights.

A Spectrum of Light

Blue headlights (either high-intensity discharge or xenon gas bulbs) are an attractive choice for car manufacturers because, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), they produce more forward-facing light than halogen bulbs. While the increased visibility of blue lights is great in theory, it fails to consider the other drivers on the road.

The light that comes from these bulbs (and also phones and computer screens) might be damaging to your eye. That is because your eye deflects most color frequencies, but the blue light spectrum is high-energy. Blues and purples can pass through your eye’s lens and hit your retina. That, in turn, causes a visual glare, ocular fatigue, squinting, and an overall feeling of tiredness.

Practically, that means blue headlights coming toward you can cause an intense glare or even an effect similar to momentary blindness. This effect is compounded every time a car with blue headlights approaches, which can quickly lead to driver fatigue and potentially falling asleep at the wheel.

In a report to Congress written by the NHTSA, the agency found that an overwhelming majority (nearly 90%) of drivers dislike blue headlights driving toward them. Moreover, the report found a correlation between an increase in blue headlights and a rise in nighttime car crashes.

The problem is that current headlight regulations do not account for the impacts of the blue light spectrum; they only look at the power (lumens) put out by the bulbs themselves. That means blue headlights tend to fall well within the legal limits for headlights, even though they cause severe glares.

The Greatest Danger

The greatest danger of blue headlights is posed when they are angled upward or when they are placed on a vehicle with a lift kit. In these cases, the blue light poses an even greater risk because that intense light is pointed directly at either the driver’s face or their mirrors, rather than the road.

When a driver is faced with nearly blinding blue light coming from all of their mirrors, they are far more likely to become distracted and potentially cause a crash. For that reason, it is crucial that any vehicle owner with blue headlights take the proper steps to ensure their headlights are properly angled so as to illuminate the road, but not endanger others.

If you suffered severe injuries in a late-night car crash, we can help. To speak to an experienced personal injury attorney from Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook, give us a call at (925) 275-5592 or send us an email.

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