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New headlight technology stalled by regulation

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Outdated federal regulations have blocked automakers from introducing new headlight technologies that could help drivers see better and even prevent some pedestrian deaths, experts say.

About 2,500 pedestrians are killed at night in the U.S., but new headlight technologies could help, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Adaptive beam headlight technology automatically adjusts head lamps to oncoming traffic, reducing glare and helping drivers see better. The technology is legal and widely available in Europe and Japan.

In fact, Japanese automaker Toyota petitioned the NHTSA in 2013 to allow adaptive beam technology, but no decision has yet been made.

NHTSA did evaluate the technology in 2014 when it was first introduced by Audi, according to ArsTechnica.com. At that time, NHTSA found the adaptive beams too slow to respond at an intersection or when two vehicles are oncoming on a curved road.

Drivers should use high beams
Responsibility for proper lighting does involve the driver, however. According to the IIHS, drivers should always use high beams, except when another driver is approaching. According to one transportation study, drivers activated their high beams only 25 percent of the time they should have been using them.

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