Automotive Lighting Regulations: News and Views

In 2001-2002, the US Federal Government's Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was nominally considering changing the headlamp performance standards contained in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108. Although these standards are written by a branch of the United States government, in fact they determine the headlamp performance for the USA, Canada and Mexico. The nominal interest in possibly changing the standard arose from complaints of excessive headlamp glare from present headlamps in North America.

This document provides background on the issue and asks 46 specific questions on how glare might be addressed. Some of these questions were written so as to lead towards pre-determined conclusions. Some of the questions were phrased as if one must choose between EITHER good seeing OR low glare from a headlamp, but cannot have both. While the two goals of good seeing and good control of glare often are in direct conflict, it is certainly possible to have reasonable levels of both.

The agency's interest in addressing the problem of glare particularly, and the issues related to lighting regulation in general, are described here as "nominal" because the agency never had any real intention of doing anything significant. The public was allowed to vent via the public comment period, and then, as happened with the agency's nominal interest in reducing glare from overly-bright daytime running lights, the docket was quietly closed and nothing was done.

If you wish to gain an understanding of the issues involved and how they could be effectively addressed, you may download my response to NHTSA's glare RFQ off the local server here, or you may get it here out of the glare docket, the entirety of which can be accessed here.


Daniel Stern Lighting (Daniel J. Stern, Proprietor)

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Copyright ©2007 Daniel J. Stern. Latest revisions 4/12. No part of this text may be reproduced in any form without express permission of author. Permission to quote is granted for the purposes of communication with the author.