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Reblogged:Blinding Headlights in the Name of 'Safety'

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At Car and Driver is a short piece by a man who fell in love with a recent Porsche model for a reason he never saw coming: its headlights.

2015_Audi.jpg
As we see from the matrix LED headlamp of a 2015 Audi, this technology has been around for at least five years. (Image by Mario von Berg, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
Each of the 911's lighting units includes 84 individually controlled LEDs that allow the car to continuously morph the pattern of its beams. When a car approaches in the oncoming lane, the 911's headlights dim around it while leaving the rest of the pattern bright. The other driver doesn't get blinded, but you still have blazing lights on your side. It's a wonder to behold. During nighttime drives in the Turbo S, I never had another driver flick their high-beams at me in annoyance -- which sometimes happens with cars that simply have bright LED low-beams... [bold added]
That sounds really neat, on top of the fact that I have wondered for years why -- as regulated as our car industry is -- the obnoxious American version of LED headlights has been allowed at all.

My best guess was that there was some kind of environmentalist requirement for LEDs, which require less energy than incandescent bulbs. After all, regulations often prioritize fashionable pet agendas like that over the rights of human beings that proper law is supposed to be protecting, so why not?

The truth surprised even me:
Porsche's adaptive lights are clearly a major improvement over the simple high-beam or low-beam setup mandated for the U.S. So why can you get them in Munich but not Milwaukee? At issue is Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, which has defined our headlights since 1967. And ol' FMVSS 108 set out rules that only defined high-beams and low-beams... [link omitted]
The article goes on to discuss (and blame) the cumbersome process of updating regulations like this, but the fact that these headlights have been in use in Europe for years is enough to indicate that something is wrong.

I have often noted such rights-respecting alternatives to regulations -- like best practice guidelines set by professional standards bodies -- but never explicitly made the connection that a major advantage could be faster responsiveness to changing technology. (I don't know who handles headlights in the EU, or how, but that is beside the point.)

So there you have it. On top of the government improperly and unnecessarily ruling on such matters, its doing so has, in this case, led directly to less safe safety products entering the market.

-- CAV

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