Those Blinding Blue Headlights

HID HeadlightsI would love an article in the paper on those purplish headlights that some vehicles are sporting. The colour and glare are horrendous to an oncoming driver. It is hazardous to be driving because they are blinding and one automatically wants to take their eyes off the road or look to the side to avoid them. Are they legal?

This is a complaint that I hear often, especially from older drivers. I don't know if there is a connection, or perhaps that I am just around older drivers more these days! At any rate, this may be from one of two instances, either a standard high intensity discharge (HID) headlamp or an improper retrofit.

Today's newer HID headlamps use a glass capsule of glowing gas to produce light instead of a heated tungsten filament bulb. The system can be two to three times more efficient at producing light than the "old" bulb. This gives the design engineer more light to work with and you more light to see with, particularly in the area immediately in front of your vehicle.

The HID system tends to produce more light in the blue end of the spectrum compared to the filament bulb which tends more toward the red. It appears that it may be the blue tendency that bothers drivers looking into these lights. Research is finding that the HID lamp does produce more discomfort glare but the reason is not currently clearly understood.

HID capsules made to fit standard headlamp housings are available for purchase. These are illegal for use in British Columbia because they produce even more glare than proper HID lamp systems. In the HID system you have a capsule, reflector and lens all designed to work together. Capsules inserted into standard housings and reflectors do not distribute the light properly. This definitely affects oncoming drivers and could prevent proper vision for the driver of the vehicle fitted with them.

If you have a complaint about HID headlamps, Transport Canada is the government agency responsible.



Those Blinding Blue Headlights

I fall into the older category of driver and I do not find the blue lights a distraction.  I have discussed this with a few friends in the same age range and I think the problem is when you see something different most people automatically look.  So what I think is occurring is drivers are looking directly at the blue lights and complaining.  Look towards the edge of the road the same as you do when meeting regular headlights and I think the problem will disappear.

Now what does bother me is the use of the clear or white fog lights.  At one time in B.C. it was against the law to have more than two white lights facing forward when on low beam.  I can remember when vehicles with fog lights had to be amber and I believe it was required to turn off the normal headlights.  Turning off the headlights may have changed with the introduction of amber rear turn signals.

I would like to see the requirement that fog lamps have to be amber brought back in.  When meeting vehicles with fog lamps on it is like driving towards a wall of light.  To make matters worse some people change the bulbs in these foglamps to the point they are more of a driving light than fog. 

I have 2 vehicles equipped with these fog lamps and I find them of no use for most conditions.  They do light up the road directly in front of the vehicle but this is probably less than 5 Meters.  If you hit heavy fog or snow because the regular low beams are still on, the glare is not reduced.

Blue Headlights and Fog lights

I too dislike those blue lights and brilliant white lights. They make it hard for me to see even the white line on the side in the dark as they glare far too much into my windshield. As I also wear glasses, it becomes even harder to tolerate. I have had them on a vehicle that I have previously owned and always got highbeamed. They were not DOT approved so I had them replaced with the original OEM bulbs.

This same vehicle was equipped with fog lamps. Now coming from a truckers family, I understand the purpose of these lights. When I met a truck or any other vehicle, I turned them off. They were there for me to see the ditches and animals better on long, dark highways. They are not there for decoration to see how many lights you can have on at once. Two headlights, that's it! I don't understand peoples ways of thinking. I live in a cariboo town and all too many drivers out there have all these lights on.  You don't see semi's driving around with all their lights on, because it's illegal. But I have seen them driving without their clearance lights on.....bad

Why are the police not handing out tickets? or warnings? or blurbs in the newspaper about the danger of all these lights? I know I'm not helping matters any when I flash my brights at these people, but they have to know that it is a safety hazard and it is very bothersome.

One more thing.............When it's foggy out, turn your tail lights on too, when it's dawn or dusk (streetlights are on is a good tell tale sign) turn your lights on. There seems to be way too many non-defensive drivers out and about now a days. More needs to be done about the stuff that is getting ignored. Pretty soon we'll be able to run stop signs, run red lights, cut corners, speed through school and park zones, race through the streets, do burn outs on peoples grass..........oh wait, they already do and nothing is done about these either.  Shame on you!!!

Blue Headlights and Fog lights

There's a driver in my area who has a jacked up truck. Not only does the vehicle have the HID lights but also fog lights with the HID lights too. When I approach there is nothing but a glare, even looking at the side of the road. The lights are definately aimed improperly for the height of the truck. I'll bet the lights are aftermarket probably done when the lifters on the truck were put it without a second thought at re-aiming the lights.

When I was learning to drive I was taught never to flash your brights as you could temporarily blind the oncoming driver. In my opinion it's become the only way to tell a driver that he's blinding you. As an amateur astronomer I know that the best way to avoid temporary blindness is not to look directly at light.

Anyway, I know the gentleman who runs this site (thank you) is a retired traffic enforcement officer, and my next statements could be taken as offensive, which is not my intent. I drive in total about 80K a day at different times of the day, mostly rural highways. I can count on one hand the number of times over the past 3 years I've seen a traffic officer and I honestly think that's part of the problem. People WILL do things that they think they can get away with. I've seen people pass me doing 120, weaving in and out of lanes and for the most part they can get away with it. People drive exclusively in the passing lane doing 60 in an 80 zone. Drivers talk and text on cell phones with impunity.

I'm happy that the RCMP are getting dangerous drugs off the street, but increasingly there are people driving who are scofflaws and putting other people's lives in danger.

Hooray, my drive home at 5:30 is now seeing more daylight!

No Surprise There

I often remarked on the same thing when I worked and do so even more now, there just isn't a cop around when you need one! That and the "I'm important and you aren't. I'm in a hurry, get out of my way!" attitude shown by a lot of drivers today.

I wish I knew how to persuade people that it is important to drive safely and within the rules.

Has a B.C. MVA trial dealt with HIDs as a contributing factor?

I drive a completely stock '07 Honda Civic from Tsawwassen to the vicinity of Canada Place in downtown Vancouver and back for work ... I typically travel Hwy. 17, 17A, 99, 91, Knight St. / Clark Dr., Powell St. & Main St.

For the above commute, I will never buy another standard shift (too much shifting!), two-door (long doors, can't get out of the car in all the smaller parking stalls these days) car that is naturally so low-slung that I have everyone else's lights shining directly into my center windshield-mounted rear view mirror at night ... the glare from oncoming cars with HIDs is bad enough (I can't believe these things are legal!), however, the blinding glare in my rear view mirror from them is the most annoying and distracting ... I have to constantly flip the day / night lever on the mirror to cut down the glare into my eyes at night ... this takes my eyes off the road momentarily and that can bite you bad if it's the wrong second ... I also find that in order to maintain optimum situational awareness, I must flip the mirror back to day mode ASAP in order to be able to instantly assess traffic conditions behind / beside me (leaving the mirror in night mode tends to mask out all but the offending lights ... the details of the vehicle[s] is[/are] lost) ... all this busy work with the damn mirror is me putting me at risk ...

Have there been any MVA trials in B.C. where the glare of HIDs has been identified as a contributing factor in the MVA?

And, I second MythicalMe's observation about the days growing longer in terms of available daylight ... bring on spring / summer!


Case Law

I searched on headlight glare and these cases were found.


Thank you DriveSmartBC for the case links ...

I shall study these and possibly comment further ... in due course ...

In related news ...

... I just came across this item in Popular Science.

Apparently, the manufacturers have finally figured out that they have created a problem with these HID lights. 

... good find CompetentDrivingBC ...

 ... largely a 'perception' issue eh?

I call b/s ... if and when I crash because I'm blinded by HIDs, it won't be a perception issue, it'll be an ICBC claim ... a situation we shouldn't, and don't need to, tolerate ...

 ... the ADBs (Adaptive Driving Beams) sounds like pie in the sky to me ... the complexity of that kind of system will cost big ... and for the technology to penetrate the market significantly here in Canada ... that will take a decade or more ... ultimately, all the electronic enhancements we see in new vehicles is generally troubling (I won't even get into the hackability aspect of IoT-enabled vehicles) ... all this tech and gadgetry ... for a product that will be recycled or land-filled in 10 to 15, possibly 20 years ...

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