Adaptive headlight systems allow drivers to spot a difficult-to-see object on a dark, curvy road about a third of a second earlier than they would with conventional headlights, according to a 2014 study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
What's more, 2012 research by the Highway Loss Data Institute showed that vehicles equipped with optional adaptive headlights had lower rates of insurance claims under most coverage types than the same vehicles without the technology.
Because they are proving to be a critical safety feature, it's no surprise that adaptive headlights are growing in popularity.
As a fleet owner or manager, it's important to understand the benefits of adaptive headlights and how they work.
Adaptive headlight systems pivot in the direction of travel when steering around curves or corners. Simply put, they swivel around curves in response to steering input. Adaptive headlights are comprised of several sub-components including:
- Wheel speed sensors that monitor the speed of rotation of each wheel
- Yaw sensors that track the vehicle's side-to-side movement when turning a corner
- A steering input sensor that monitors the angle of the steering wheel
- Small motors attached to each headlight.
The data from the sensors are interpreted by an electronic control unit (ECU), which determines the vehicle's speed, and the angle and length of the curve it is negotiating. The ECU then directs the motors attached to each headlight to move the beam to a specified degree for optimal lighting potential.
Most adaptive headlight systems can turn the headlights up to 15 degrees or more per side — better illuminating the road ahead.
Most systems also include a self-leveling system, which helps correctly position the headlights and prevents them from pointing too far up or down when driving on hilly terrain.
Adaptive headlights offer an additional safety benefit. The high beams stay active on both sides of a preceding car without glaring the driver. They also reduce glare for oncoming drivers as compared with traditional headlights.