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Expensive headlights may not help prevent auto accidents

Car manufacturers, both in the United States and abroad, continually strive to make their vehicles safer in hopes of spurring demand from consumers who value safety. Every once in a while, however, a deadly auto accident or other headline-grabbing event calls vehicle safety into question. Such is the case regarding a study that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently published.

The IIHS study examined the adequacy of headlights on 31 different midsize cars. Surprisingly, only one vehicle, the Toyota Prius v, had headlights that earned a "good" rating from the IIHS. The IIHS rated 11 other vehicles as having "acceptable" headlights, and nine vehicles got a "marginal" rating for their headlights. The headlights for the remaining 10 vehicles received a "poor" rating.

Interestingly, more expensive vehicles did not necessarily earn higher marks than less expensive ones. For example, the IIHS gave a "poor" rating to the halogen headlights on the BMW 3 series. By contrast, the basic halogen headlight system on the 4-door Honda Accord earned an "acceptable" rating.

The IIHS study is significant because about half of all fatalities on the roadways occur during dark, dusk or dawn hours, when drivers must rely more heavily on the effectiveness of their headlights to avoid hitting vehicles, pedestrians and other objects.

The IIHS study may be the impetus for auto manufacturers to revamp their headlights in the future. Regardless of whether that happens, however, an inadequate headlight is not an excuse for a driver to cause a car accident. If a driver in New Orleans does not feel comfortable with the headlights on their vehicle, they should try to find a fix for them, or simply slow down and drive more cautiously when traveling in the darker hours.

No matter what kind of headlights a vehicle has, if the driver causes an accident, they will be responsible for any personal injury claims from a car accident victim.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, "First-ever IIHS headlight ratings show most need improvement," March 30, 2016

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