Not So Dim Idea (Automatic High Beam Dimmers)

safe driving at night

Not So Dim Idea (Automatic High Beam Dimmers)

The moment someone invented headlights that had a high-beam and a low-beam, they also invented a problem.  That problem was what happens when you meet someone on the road going the other way who forgets to switch off their high-beams?

We’ve all had it happen, of course.  All you can do is look to the right edge of the road and try to avoid looking directly into the offender’s headlights. We want to have high-beams available for the simple reason that they can improve safety when they’re used correctly.  They allow drivers more reaction time since they can see farther down the road.  So, what about a way to automatically have your vehicle switch off your high beams when another vehicle is approaching?

Bingo! The automatic high beam dimmer! Engineers started working on this way back in the 1950s.  One automaker came up with an odd-looking device that mounted on the dash. It had a phototube in it and, when it was hit by light, it would activate a mechanism that switched headlights from high- to low-beam.  The problem was, it didn’t work all that well when it mistook a lot of other lights for oncoming cars.

But steadily, technology improved, and computers were a game changer.  The latest automatic high beam dimmers work very well.  They combine a forward-looking camera in the rearview mirror with a computer to analyze lights ahead of the vehicle.  The computer can distinguish between oncoming vehicles, reflections off street signs, taillights, ambient city lights, and streetlights — a big improvement.

Engineers are also working on a split beam that would be able to selectively illuminate the road in front of your vehicle and block a portion of the light from reaching the oncoming driver’s eyes.

If you have a burned-out headlight or are noticing that your headlights are dimming, check with your NAPA AutoCare Center. They can replace headlamps to restore your night vision.

Mountain View Automotive

8650 Pearl Street
Thornton, Colorado 80229

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