Study: Car headlights not strong enough, pose danger

ATLANTA — A troubling report card is taking aim at the headlights on your car.

A new study shows there's a good chance the headlights on the car you drive aren't powerful enough to keep you safe.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant found that some high-end cars got the worst marks.

Among those graded poorly by

were the Mercedes C-Class and the BMW 3 Series.

A Toyota Prius with high-tech LED headlights is the only car model that got the institute’s highest marks.

For years, crash test ratings have been critical factors for millions of consumers in the market for a safe new car.

"Obviously safety is on everybody's radar, and it's important that when you're in an accident that you're protected. But just as important, or maybe more important, are the safety features that prevent you from being in the accident in the first place," Wes Ellis, of Jim Ellis Volkswagen, told Diamant.

Still, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, which conducts the crash tests, had never tested headlights until now, and the results left even the testers stunned.

While the government regulates how bright headlights should be, there are no standards for how far they should reach.

The institute considers 330 feet on a straightway as a good mark, but of the dozens of mid-size models tested, only the Toyota Prius with LED headlights met that mark. %



"We pay attention very closely. It's an important issue. You know, 90 percent of your driving ability comes from your ability to see and from your vision," said State Farm spokesman Justin Tomczak.

The BMW 3 Series with halogen headlamps scored the worst, with low beams that only reach 130 feet.

"And that's because there is no bar there," said Channel 2 consumer adviser Clark Howard.

Howard told Diamant that safety standards haven't been updated in decades.

"The shape and design of cars is so varied now, that without any standards, the automakers just slap on what looks good, but is not necessarily safe," Howard said.