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New IIHS Ratings to Push Adaptive Headlights Into the Spotlight

Nov 30, 2015



Adaptive headlights are set to be the next technology that sees widespread adoption thanks to new safety ratings.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is developing a system for evaluating headlight performance which will require vehicles to receive a ‘good’ rating to be considered a Top Safety Pick Plus, the IIHS’s top safety rating.


Initial results from these new headlight tests are due out next year, while they will be incorporated into the Top Safety Pick Plus rating as early as 2017.

Of all the new headlight technologies hitting the market, it is adaptive headlights, which use steering input, cameras and electric motors to match the direction of the car, that are making the biggest impact. “We’ve studied all of these different innovations to the extent we’re able, and the strongest signal we get back from the data is that the steerable headlights are associated with the largest reductions of crashes reported to insurers,” David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer told Automotive News.

The ratings will also look at new types of lights, such as LEDs and HIDs, along with other technologies like auto-dimming high beams.

Adaptive headlights have been available for quite a long time on luxury cars, but the IIHS wants to see this technology in all ends of the market. “We’ve talked to some automakers who are looking at lighting systems that they weren’t planning on doing for several years … but they’re now looking at accelerating the availability of that technology,” said Zuby.

Last year, the IIHS introduced a rating system for frontal collision warning systems which must score at least an advanced rating for the car to be considered for the Top Safety Pick Plus moniker. Since this introduction, front crash systems have started to become available on more affordable cars as automakers push for top safety ratings on every model.

“Everybody is racing to add this technology to their cars,” Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia Motors America told Automotive News. “They are upping the ante at the IIHS, and it puts a lot of pressure on the industry to chase a moving target.”


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