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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Ban LED headlights

Within the past few years, there has been a boom in the use of LED car headlights. However, LEDs pose a great hazard to drivers as they can obscure the road in more ways than one.

LED headlights have emerged as a better alternative to halogen headlights since they use less power and have a longer lifespan, but we need to consider the actual complications that humans face rather than the illumination.

Humans are the ones driving the cars, making them responsible for the road safety of both drivers and pedestrians. In my experience, oncoming traffic with LED headlights makes it hard for me to see what’s going on to the point that I have to stare towards the edge of the road instead of focusing on the lane in front of me. 

And don’t get me started on driving in fog. When LED headlights come toward me through mist and fog, I start praying. 

Thankfully oncoming traffic is only passing but that doesn’t stop them from coming up behind you. Now I have pretty bad vision which I correct with contacts and glasses, but my astigmatism really acts up with bright lights. Astigmatism is a curvature of the eye that affects distance vision and, for me, causes lights to blur, streak and overall take up more of the viewing field than is necessary. The brighter the light, the worse my vision.

I absolutely hate when LEDs are reflecting in my rearview mirror and or start flashing in my sideviews. It makes it both impossible to see what’s happening behind me on the road and the reflections make it hard for me to see out the windshield. Not only is that bothersome, but it is genuinely a safety hazard; if I cannot see where I’m going then how am I supposed to follow the rules of the road?

LED headlights, along with high-intensity discharge headlights, emit a light that can be more blue than traditional halogen lights. Blue light is harder for the human eye to withstand because of where it hits the retina.

These lights elicit stronger complaints and discomfort, particularly from 18 to 24-year-olds. Halogens can emit, at most, 1,500 lumens while LED headlights have been recorded to be upwards of 4,000 lumens. This drastic difference in lighting poses a danger to drivers of all cars but especially lower set sedans. Because they are closer to the ground, the headlights on pickup trucks and SUVs sit higher and shine directly into their windows, a straight beam into a driver’s eyes.

While LEDs have become the next step in headlight technology, there is another option. Adaptive driving beam headlights have grown in popularity in Europe and while brands like Toyota and BMW have started using them, they are not yet widespread in the United States. They were only recently made legal in February 2022, and dealerships are slowly rolling out newer model cars with the lights.

A.D.B. lighting uses sensors and cameras to map the layout of the road and illuminate the surrounding environment without distracting oncoming drivers. A safer option that provides both visibility of the road and won’t interfere with the vision of other operators.

As these lighting options slowly roll out, we need to encourage drivers to switch away from LEDs and either move back to traditional halogen lights or A.D.B. lighting instead. This is a matter of public safety, by changing our headlights we can make our roads safer and protect both drivers and pedestrians.

This story was written by Izzy Fonfara Drewel. She can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Izzy Fonfara Drewel, Executive Opinions Editor
Izzy Fonfara Drewel is a junior from Papillion, Nebraska majoring in journalism with a double minor in music and Spanish. This school year she will be serving as the Executive Opinions Editor. In previous years, she made her home on the Arts & Entertainment desk as the Executive Arts & Entertainment Editor. Outside of the Wire, Izzy plays the trumpet in the Marquette University Bands and spends her free time trying new restaurants and playing card games with her friends. She is excited to branch out from A&E and dive into a new experience on the Opinions desk.

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