RAC welcomes Government decision to commission independent study into headlight glare

RAC welcomes Government decision to commission independent study into headlight glare
The RAC has today welcomed a commitment from the Government to commission an independent study into the issue of headlight glare, after research showed an overwhelming majority of drivers affected – as many as eight-in-10 – believe the problem is getting worse.1

Earlier this year, an RAC survey found that 89% of drivers think at least some headlights on cars on the road today are too bright, of which 28% – a higher proportion than ever – think most are.

Of all the drivers who complain about the brightness of car headlights, some 91% say they get dazzled when driving with 74% saying this happens regularly.

When it comes to the effects of glare on drivers, 67% of drivers who suffer say they have to slow down considerably until they can see clearly again, while a similar proportion (64%) believe some headlights are so bright they risk causing accidents.

In fact, 5% of these drivers state they have nearly been involved in a collision themselves.

Concerningly, 7% of the 2,000 drivers surveyed said that they find headlight glare so bad that they avoid driving at night altogether.

While the RAC has been surveying drivers on dazzling headlights since 2018, these new findings show more drivers than ever appear to be suffering from them, with 85% of those affected stating they believe the problem is getting worse.

Responding to a petition set up by a member of the public following campaigning on the issue by the RAC, the College of Optometrists, Baroness Hayter and others, the Government said: “Recognising the need for further evidence [regarding headlight glare], we intend to commission independent research shortly.”

RAC road safety spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “The fact the Government has listened to drivers’ concerns and heeded our calls to examine the complex issue of headlight glare in more detail marks a real turning point.

“The topic has undoubtedly struck a chord with motorists up and down the country, with many people contacting us directly to call for something to be done.

“Brighter headlights, while giving drivers a better view of the road ahead, are clearly causing other road users significant problems.

“As many as nine-in-10 drivers tell us they believe at least some car headlights are too bright, while 14% of drivers aged 65+ say they have stopped driving altogether as a result of being dazzled.

“An independent study provides a golden opportunity for the Government and industry to get to the bottom of the problem, identify the factors involved and map out a way forward. We’re aware of regulatory changes being made at an international level that will hopefully make a difference in many years to come, but are concerned that these alone may not be enough to address headlight dazzle.

“There are also known shortcomings concerning the official road casualty data not accurately capturing the true number of incidents associated with headlight glare, so it’s absolutely right that the topic is investigated properly to understand what can be done to keep everyone safe.

“We look forward to working with the Department of Transport to help ensure the study is as robust as possible and drivers’ voices are heard.”

Baroness Hayter said: “This is a victory for all those drivers affected by glare who’ve complained to their MP, signed the parliamentary petition, or indeed sought help from an optometrist – only to discover the problem was with headlights, and not their eyes. This is an issue the RAC has long campaigned on and I am delighted the Government has recognised there is a real problem. We look forward to discussing its research in due course.”

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1 https://media.rac.co.uk/pressreleases/a-glaring-problem-rac-calls-for-action-on-headlight-glare-as-eight-in-10-drivers-affected-say-problem-is-getting-worse-3296130