Q&A - Candlepower Restrictions

Q&A ImageIt used to be that there was a candle power restriction for vehicles but these days none.  I was driving along the other day and an approaching car had the high beam on.  I flashed my high beam in hopes they would switch to low beam but no.  As the car drew closer I was being blinded and had to slow down. 

I eventually had to stop my car for fear of an accident and where I ended up was half into the oncoming lane enough so that the new model Cadillac with the high intensity lights was forced to stop also. 

He was irrate with me and I told him I was blinded which sent him into a tirade of swearing at me. 

I am 72 years old and was a proffessional driver, class one for many years, overly bright lights, even in the daytime, when coming toward me make it hard to see. 

The new colored LCD lights are the worst and yet people pay extra money to put them on their cars and even go so far as to put them on as road lights which are supposed to be connected to the low beam, then day or night they turn them all on. 

I am concerned that someone is going to suffer badly from this if it is not stopped.  Is there nothing that can be done about this????  Can we not bring back the testing stations in order to govern the abuse of high powered lights used on vehicles???

There are restrictions for wattage or candlepower of lights installed in vehicles. The Light Vehicle Inspection Manual says "All lamps must comply with designated requirements. Lenses and bulbs must meet CMVSS/FMVSS standards. For reference, please see the BC Inspection & Approval Protocol for Vehicle Lamps, Lights and Reflectors Document." That manual instructs the inspector as follows:

Are the halogen bulbs of the correct wattage?

There are many different types of halogen bulb, and each has only one correct wattage. All bulbs must be marked with their rated wattage. Illegal overwattage bulbs are widely available, so in this test you check to make sure bulbs of the correct wattage are installed.

Examine the headlight bulbs.

Are they marked with a single wattage rating such as “55w” on a bulb with one filament, or a double wattage rating such as “60/55w” on a bulb with two filaments?

Yes: Continue with this test.
No: The vehicle fails.

Is any bulb marked with a wattage rating higher than 65w on a vehicle with a 6- or 12-volt system, or 75w on a vehicle with a 24-volt system?

Yes: The vehicle fails.
No: The halogen bulbs are valid. Proceed to the next test.

Let's move on to the High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps that are being used as an alternative to halogen lamps these days. Dan Stern Lighting has a good explanation of their drawbacks.

Finally, we must also consider age. Older drivers are susceptible to glare issues, especially where HID lamps are concerned. Avoiding glare and how it affects drivers is neatly explained in the document How to Avoid Headlight Glare published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Have you had your eyes checked lately? Did you discuss glare issues? This may be a worthwhile thing to do.

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

Thank you so much for this confirmation about lights.  I still wonder how General Motors gets away with putting such high intensity lights on their newer model Cadilac.  Having used road lights for many years as a class 1 driver I am well aware of the past rulings for their use, "must be connected to the high beam switch so that they shut off when switched to low beam"  This is not the case now.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

In reference to the requirement that auxiliary driving lamps be wired to work only in conjunction with the high beams, this is indeed the case - see Motor Vehicle Act Regulation 4.09 (3).  Whether it is enforced or not may be a different issue.

Separately, I have to say that for a professional driver of many years' experience, you could surely have dealt with the situation you described more effectively (i.e. by slowing to a speed within your range of vision, and averting your eyes from the blinding lights of the oncoming vehicle toward your right hand road edge).  Ending up in the oncoming lane could have been disastrous - you could have killed someone.