High Beams Simple Safety Feature Not Used Enough
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Distracted driving is a lead cause of car accidents, but others are caused by not following the rules and using the safety features we have.

Safety features on cars are getting more complex as crash avoidance technology develops, but one of the simplest and oldest aids available to drivers to improve visibility isn’t used nearly enough.

Most drivers don’t turn on their high beams when they should, even on the darkest roads, according to a recent study by researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a non-profit financed by the insurance industry, and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

“It may be that drivers are being too polite and keeping their ‘brights’ off whenever there are other vehicles in sight — even if those vehicles are far enough away not to be bothered by the glare,” Ian Reagan, a senior research scientist for the institute, said in a statement. “Another possibility is that they are simply forgetting to switch to high beams. In either case, high-beam assist could be a good solution.”

High-beam assist is a feature that automatically switches between low beams and high beams, depending on whether other vehicles are present.

“A third possible explanation for the low rate of high beam use is that drivers believe they see fine without them,” Reagan added. “If that’s the case, they may not see the point in purchasing a vehicle with high-beam assist and activating the feature.”

During the study, researchers observed high-beam use at night on straight and windy roads around Ann Arbor, Mich. in both rural and urban areas. All roads but one had poor or nonexistent lighting, the report said, noting that a vehicle was deemed isolated enough to use high beams if other vehicles were 10 seconds or more away.

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