Drive a BMW at night and you will “See” the difference…
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Feb. 15, 2010
The latest Xenon HID’s provide an improved field of view, automatic road undulation leveling, oncoming traffic adjustment and dynamic-bend lighting leading to a safer driving experience at night.
A number of studies now confirm that high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps offer significant safety advantages over halogen headlights, according to Hella, a leading supplier of HID lighting to OEM’s.
“Even with these advantages, some drivers are put off by the comparatively higher cost of HID versions, also known as Xenon headlamps, named for the type of gas that is used in HID bulbs,” said Steffen Pietzonka, vice president of Marketing for Hella’s Lighting business unit.
First of all, HID headlights provide two to three times more light than halogen versions. In addition, they create a wider light beam pattern and illuminate the area at the side of vehicle better. He cited a recent study by the German motoring association ADAC, confirming that drivers who use high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights drive more safely. ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club), Europe’s largest automobile club, found that drivers who use HID headlights drive more safely by up to 70 percent added Steffen.
TUV-Rheinland, the Germany-based global provider of technical, safety and certification services further concluded that serious accidents at night would be reduced by 50 percent if all vehicles were equipped with HID headlights. All traffic fatalities would be reduced by at least 18 percent.
“Even with these advantages, some drivers are put off by the comparatively higher cost of HID versions, also known as Xenon headlamps, named for the type of gas that is used in HID bulbs,” explained Pietzonka.
Common misconceptions about alleged strong glare continue
A 2008 study by the University of Michigan Transportation Institute determined that HID lamps produce less glare than halogen headlights. Some glare, Hella believes, is caused by vehicle movement and road geometry, as well as headlight aim. Hella HID headlights are generally glare-free, due to their automatic headlight leveling and oncoming traffic adjustment feature, and, in Europe, to their headlight cleaning system. Both features are mandated by law in Europe.
Pietzonka said HID lighting has other advantages, especially when combined with a dynamic-bend or see around the turn ahead lighting system and an adaptive cut-off system.
“In combination with sensors and actuators, HID provides optimum light and dynamic adaptation to every traffic situation,” Pietzonka noted. “Hella was one of the first lighting suppliers to develop dynamic-bend lighting in 2003,” he pointed out. “This doubles the range of the low beam and the driver’s visible area while turning.” Dynamic-bend lighting allows hazardous situations to be recognized more quickly, giving the driver more time to react.
The adaptive cut-off function, introduced in a premium automobile segment in 2009 by Hella, adjusts the headlight range automatically ahead of the vehicle as well as for oncoming traffic with the aid of a camera system. Pietzonka said the system provides optimum driver visibility without blinding the other drivers. “About half of all motorists feel stressed by poor visibility, with serious accidents occurring especially often in such circumstances,” he noted. “By illuminating the road better, HID headlights also can relieve driver stress and improve safety.”