A good solution would be for modern cars to detect ambient light and adjust accordingly. On a well lit highway with lots of other road users, there's no reason to have these things turned up to 11 all the time. They could safely dial back to 3 or 4.
The problem is that aftermarket kits are used to install HID lights into standard headlight enclosures. This is base-level idiocy on the part of tinkerers to 'improve' their cars and make them look more modern. There may be a corresponding 'Type R' badge on the back to make the car go faster as well. These will throw a TON of light at your rear view and blind you. These are illegal in most states and I wish this law were enforced without exception everywhere in the world.
Static levelling is mandatory for HID headlamps, and that adjusts the headlamp level according to load, etc, for example based on suspension level sensors. As the name says, it is static, so it doesn't do anything while the vehicle is moving.
Dynamic levelling compensates for driver braking and acceleration, but I have not seen a production system that works for hills (how could it without information about where the crest is?). Typically, the systems work to ONLY react to the driver doing something, not road features like speed bumps or inclines.
Neither levelling procedure works to actively reduce glare for other drivers when in turns or going over a hill.
Of course, a brighter misaligned headlight is worse, but an old halogen headlight creates plenty of glare if misaligned, while a super bright headlight is fine as long as it's not aimed at your eyes.
The matter of HID headlight annoyance is well-trodden territory in automotive circles. Owning a car with them equipped, I appreciate the additional visibility. On the flip side, living in an area where they are common, I appreciate that they can be blinding if you're caught in the beam.
I thought there were regulations for such things -- for headlights, as well -- but either they are too lax or no one is enforcing them.
Also, it seems typical of today's trends. Brighten up e.g. one's headlights for one's own convenience, even if and as to an excess that inconveniences everyone else or even puts them at risk.
P.S. Also, many "modern" headlights have a very small and bright core source of light, as opposed to the larger reflector of "older" designs that does not create such an intense, localized spot.
And the "blue-er" light -- harder on one's night vision.
And there's a new trend... super-bright LED daytime running lights, actually bright enough to be distracting at high noon, and configured so that just one side switches off when the blinker turns on (giving this absurd half-lit or winking effect).
I was behind a car today where the middle "third" brake light would actually blink, so weird and distracting -- hopefully an illegal after-market mod.
Definitely one place I would have thought regulation would have stopped design from impacting safety. Next auto makers will decide brake lights don't even have to be red, because who cares about night vision if you have freakin laser beams in your headlights, right?!
I don't understand why it's legal to have headlights so bright. Manufacturers say having headlights brighter than everyone else makes you safer because you stand out. By the point where no one can even see, any putative safety benefit has been lost. Headlight brightness seems like a close analog of overfishing to me. :/
I know it's unfashionable to give a shit about people when you're driving a car, particularly people on foot, who if they were at all important enough to care about would surely be driving a car, but - well, what can I say? Bleeding heart, that's me.
However, BMW's new ultra bright lights will surely fail to gain traction, because BMW tends to attract a class of ultra-considerate driver that puts the safety of other drivers first and foremost, and surely BMW drivers would never stand for something like this.
There's a manual switch which accepts two position and which is located on the back of your rear view mirror.
It's something you need to switch manually twice a day: once in the morning to put it back in "day mode" and once at night, when it becomes dark. You don't need to reconfigure anything: the position of the rear-view mirror stays correct and you continue "viewing the same thing", just dimmed enough as to not be blinded by bright headlights in your rear-view mirror.
Honestly, as I wrote earlier, most people I know who drive cars are totally unaware of that switch even though they're driving since 20 years.
EDIT: Not talking about the lights described in the article, but people who replace their cars' original lights with brighter ones.
Sounds like you're really endangering other people's lives in response to an annoyance.
I can't stand cars that have xenon lights, and I was glad to see their numbers start to decline in the last couple years.
WTF. How on earth would you know whether drivers going in the opposite direction were being blinded by your lights?!
"Turn them down." What do you have a rheostat on your headlamps? Keep them "down."
Besides, there's no helping that everyone's screwed on convex roads. Coming over the top of a hill, your headlights will necessarily blind everyone coming from the other direction.
I drive a BMW 3 series, which I don't believe is an especially low-riding car, but I still notice this quite a lot! I'm 6'2" and have the seat basically bolt upright, so my eyes are pretty far off the ground.
Keep assuming drug usage while the reality of you blinding others is readily observable by peers around you. Self leveling projector lights beaming straight into my cab.
I think I've seen references to 50-60% efficiency for production lasers, though I could be mistaken on that. Given the very low efficiency of lighting systems in general (incandescent bulbs waste 95%+ of input energy, even CFLs and LEDs are in 20-40% range AFAIR), that's very high.
As a software engineer this statement really bugs me. Once something is damaged in the real world you can't assume control over the system anymore. The part that cuts or provides the power to the laser might have been the thing damaged. Maybe if they had added a qualifier like "power should be cut" instead of such certitude.
The page explains: "White phosphorus is highly reactive, and spontaneously ignites at about 30°C in moist air. It is usually stored under water, to prevent exposure to the air. It is also extremely toxic, even in very small quantities."
Aside from cutting power to the headlights, I wonder how BMW keeps the white phosphorus from causing trouble during a crash.
In this case, it's then diffused again through a yellow phosphorus lens.
I'm not doubting the numbers in efficiency gain, but I'm having a hard time figuring them out. Seems that there can only be loss from converting this light "back and forth" (but more than likely I don't understand how lasers work).
My question would be: are modern headlights really that much of a drain?
They're a much better "daylight" approximation than comparable systems, e.g. the units fitted on the Jaguar XF are pretty jarring in comparison.
The beam shape adjusts based on roadspeed and window wiper activity, the rain pattern is excellent when snow is falling.
For the manufacturer the part is cheaper than comparable high end units, partly due to removing the need for external ride height sensors. Most HID setups have a ride height sensor on the front suspension and one on the rear, the Hella units have gyroscopes packaged inside the cluster removing the need for external parts.
The final winning point for me is the freedom left to the manufacturer in designing the rest of the headlight cluster around the HID unit. Consequently replacing any other bulbs in one of these units is complete child's play. Contrast this with 0.5 hours "book time" for the new BMW X5 - the front bumper has to be removed (involves disconnecting headlight washer pipes and plenty more besides).
Also, no, until this article & comments, I have never heard this complaint.