Automotive Those Horrible and Illegal HID Conversions...Again

H-nu

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I'm not sure who asked me to produce data to support my comment regarding HID conversions being a nuisance rather than a significant safety hazard but am I the only one that thinks this request is backwards and counter intuitive?

Accidents resulting in personal injury trigger an investigation and reporting process in which information is gathered (i.e. statements from drivers, inspection of vehicles, etc.) and if illegal headlights were determined to be the cause of motor vehicle collisions then data from these reports would be tracked at some level whether it was state or national. Based on this data, statistics would be available for additional reports or trigger regulatory or enforcement actions. Are there such reports or statistics indicating that headlights are actual causes of collisions? This is a genuine question. I would imagine that with the crowd we have here these reports would be on the list for cut and paste.

No I don't drive with the TS3000 on with the regular head lamps. There's no need as the 8700s produce more than sufficient light.

My comment regarding people flashing me due to the white light was an error as I should have said it was the tint of the light more cool white than the neutral or yellow of halogens. When I see a set of cool white headlights coming at me I think HID conversions.
 

-Virgil-

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I'm not sure who asked me to produce data to support my comment regarding HID conversions being a nuisance rather than a significant safety hazard but am I the only one that thinks this request is backwards and counter intuitive?

I think it is most likely that with that question, you were being offered an opportunity to gracefully move your participation in this thread in a serious, responsible-adult direction.

As for your explanation: it falls well short of any mark (unless the goal was to rationalize your opinions and behavior, in which case it probably works great for you, but doesn't stand up to informed scrutiny).

Accidents resulting in personal injury trigger an investigation and reporting process in which information is gathered

...not including much of anything related to headlight glare. Most states don't have any provision on their crash report forms (or the resultant database) to account for lighting-related causal or causative factors to a vehicle collision; the closest available would be a vague "I didn't see him" type of statement from an involved party fortunate enough to be alive and coherent and with memory intact. The same situation is probably true throughout Canada, too. And almost no states or Canadian provinces still periodically check or adjust vehicle headlamp aim, and those few jurisdictions that do tend to use a very permissive standard not capable of controlling headlamp aim any more closely than keeping it lower than the treetops and higher than the car's own bumper.

The basic scientific principle you are missing here is that absence of evidence of a hypothesized causal relationship does not imply or serve as evidence of absence of such a relationship. But that doesn't really much matter in this discussion except to demonstrate your flawed line of thinking.

A simplified presentation of the actual chain of logic relevant to this question looks like this:

Scientists do extensive research over many years and an exhaustive range of conditions and variables to determine safe and effective ranges of intensity throughout a driver's field of vision. The right range of intensity varies by the area of the driver's field of vision. Three of the parameters involving finding an appropriate maximum intensity are glare from oncoming/following vehicles, foreground light from the driver's own headlights, and upward stray light from the driver's own headlights. For each of these parameters, there is a safe limit to glare intensity, above which the glare has a significantly negative direct or indirect impact on drivers' safety-related driving performance. These glare level limits are incorporated into headlamp performance specifications promulgated by a country's traffic safety agency -- these would be the US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Headlamps that emit more than the allowable level of light in any of the glare-control zones of the beam are not legal because they are not safe. Installing an "HID kit" in a halogen headlamp inevitably causes the headlamp to exceed the maximum allowable intensity in at least one (and most commonly all three) of the glare-control zones. It is both unnecessary and pointless to run the original research with a "kitted" headlamp; the effect of excessive light in the glare-control zones is already robustly demonstrated, and the exceedance itself constitutes both the illegality and the unsafety.

My comment regarding people flashing me due to the white light was an error as I should have said it was the tint of the light more cool white than the neutral or yellow of halogens.

I'm afraid you're still wrong/still making self-serving, rationalizing guesses at why you're being flashed. It's not because of the color of your headlights, it's because they're not aimed and/or not used correctly.

When I see a set of cool white headlights coming at me I think HID conversions.

With that reaction, sometimes you're right and often you're wrong.
 

Unicorn

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I'm not sure who asked me to produce data to support my comment regarding HID conversions being a nuisance rather than a significant safety hazard but am I the only one that thinks this request is backwards and counter intuitive?

Accidents resulting in personal injury trigger an investigation and reporting process in which information is gathered (i.e. statements from drivers, inspection of vehicles, etc.) and if illegal headlights were determined to be the cause of motor vehicle collisions then data from these reports would be tracked at some level whether it was state or national. Based on this data, statistics would be available for additional reports or trigger regulatory or enforcement actions. Are there such reports or statistics indicating that headlights are actual causes of collisions? This is a genuine question. I would imagine that with the crowd we have here these reports would be on the list for cut and paste.

No I don't drive with the TS3000 on with the regular head lamps. There's no need as the 8700s produce more than sufficient light.

My comment regarding people flashing me due to the white light was an error as I should have said it was the tint of the light more cool white than the neutral or yellow of halogens. When I see a set of cool white headlights coming at me I think HID conversions.

Most people who are blinded by a light, and think about it when they tell the police or their insurance company, will just think that the person had their brights on. Not that the other car had HID or LED lamps installed. Perhaps they might say the car's headlights were too high or too bright, which will lead many to just assume the brights were on or it was misadjusted.
The police don't respond to every accident, or always take very thorough reports.

Why would the color of your lights cause others to flash you unless you were blinding them?
 

Franco

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Scheinwerfermann said:
...there is a safe limit to glare intensity, above which the glare has a significantly negative direct or indirect impact on drivers' safety-related driving performance. These glare level limits are incorporated into headlamp performance specifications promulgated by a country's traffic safety agency -- these would be the US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
It sounds like you're talking about discomfort and disability glare here. I did some light reading and while I did find a good amount on the subject, I was surprised at what I didn't find. If you wouldn't mind, could you clarify some things for me?

To begin with, at what value is disability glare no longer acceptable in general? I haven't come across any specific values or ranges. Is that because disability glare is dependent on where in the field of vision it is located, and/or because it is more of a value judgement made with the consideration of other variables? I also couldn't find anything about the relationship between disability glare and safety. Sure, decreased seeing performance isn't going to be good, but just how does x disability glare correlate to y decrease in seeing performance or safety?

As for discomfort glare, that seems to be a can of worms. Unlike disability, discomfort glare seems to be dependent on far more variables, such as spectral composition, luminance, etc. What I didn't find though was just how discomfort glare affects drivers. Unlike disability, it would seem that the negative effects of discomfort glare are harder to pin down. Are drivers simply uneasy or are they looking away from the road, becoming agitated, and so on with the effect of reducing driving safety? A little NHTSA workshop slideshow I found indicated that more research needed to be done in this area, is there any more information out there on the subject?

Finally, just how much disability and discomfort glare is out there on the road today? That's probably a very broad question, but how much of a problem is it? Is the average headlight out there right now doing reasonably well in this department? What about newly designed ones, HID and LED, and so on?

There are a lot of questions in this post, curiosity definitely gets the better of me sometimes, but thanks for you time.
 

-Virgil-

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It sounds like you're talking about discomfort and disability glare here.

I wasn't, actually -- that's a related topic, though.

To begin with, at what value is disability glare no longer acceptable in general?

There's no pat answer to that question because it is highly dependent on the level of dark-adaptation of the eyes of the person experiencing the glare as well as other significant factors. It's very situational. With any degree of dark adaptation, any/every light source in the field of vision creates some level of disability glare even if there's no discomfort. Dashboard lights are the prime example: they usually don't create discomfort, but they do degrade the driver's visual acuity (that is, they do produce some disability glare).

I haven't come across any specific values or ranges. Is that because disability glare is dependent on where in the field of vision it is located, and/or because it is more of a value judgement made with the consideration of other variables?

Except for the "value judgment" part, this is a pretty much correct understanding.

I also couldn't find anything about the relationship between disability glare and safety.

That is very much not a simple question (or answer) and learning about it will require serious studying. this book would get you some solid grounding in the science, then you can do further study in a technical library such as the one at RPI's Lighting Research Center or the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

As for discomfort glare, that seems to be a can of worms.

Well, glare in general is pretty "wormy"!

Unlike disability, discomfort glare seems to be dependent on far more variables

Disability glare is also subject to variables.

What I didn't find though was just how discomfort glare affects drivers. Unlike disability, it would seem that the negative effects of discomfort glare are harder to pin down.

That's correct.

is there any more information out there on the subject?

Yes, a lot of it is ongoing now, and a lot of it has been done in the recent and distant past; you can find most of it in the libraries mentioned above.

Finally, just how much disability and discomfort glare is out there on the road today?

Too broad a question to answer quantitatively, and even if you'd accept a broad answer ("Too much", "An appropriate amount", "There's room for more without affecting safety"), there's no pat answer to that one, either, because there are different informed and defensable opinions. Europeans tend to have a glare-averse philosophy, so they bias their regulations toward glare minimization while providing what they consider adequate visibility. Americans tend to go the other way, we tend to bias our regulations toward maximizing visibility while controlling glare to the degree possible. It would be very difficult to determine which (if either) is the "right" answer.

That's probably a very broad question, but how much of a problem is it? Is the average headlight out there right now doing reasonably well in this department? What about newly designed ones, HID and LED, and so on?

If we take the luxury of assuming proper headlamp equipment (with the correct kind of bulb), proper headlamp aim, nominal vehicle voltage, a straight road and no load in the trunk of the car and a clean windshield and good weather, most headlamps on low beam produce a level of glare that isn't dangerous to most other road users. Unfortunately, we don't live in that ideal world and many of those assumptions are often wrong. Recent US research (from UMTRI) suggests the glare from US headlamps in the US traffic environment probably isn't causing a significant safety problem. However, that does not mean (or suggest, or imply) that it's safe to modify headlamps in a way that makes them produce more than their designed-in levels of glare. I don't have the time or interest to type out a free online class in basic research principles and data analysis, but I mention that specific "no" point because it's a pretty safe bet someone would jump on that research conclusion and use it as rationalization for "HID kits" being OK.
 

Hilldweller

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...

There's no pat answer to that question because it is highly dependent on the level of dark-adaptation of the eyes of the person experiencing the glare as well as other significant factors. It's very situational. With any degree of dark adaptation, any/every light source in the field of vision creates some level of disability glare even if there's no discomfort. Dashboard lights are the prime example: they usually don't create discomfort, but they do degrade the driver's visual acuity (that is, they do produce some disability glare).....
Especially the dang highbeam indicator! It's blue. Bright blue. And it won't dim with the rest of the dash lights.
The worst color, the brightest light in the cabin, right at the exact time that you don't want a competing light, when your highbeams are on....
 

inetdog

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Well, I sure would prefer that to having it on when the low beams are on.
I suspect they want it visible in daytime too, but some sort of intelligent brightness modulation would help.
(I use low beams as DLR on my pre-DLR Prius, and definitely want to know if the high beams are inadvertently switched on.
BTW, 7 years of DLR use of the HID lamps finally required replacement. Not too shabby.
 

-Virgil-

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Especially the dang highbeam indicator! It's blue. Bright blue. And it won't dim with the rest of the dash lights.
The worst color, the brightest light in the cabin, right at the exact time that you don't want a competing light, when your highbeams are on....

I agree with you on all counts. Years ago, American cars usually had a red light, not a very bright one, for the high beam indicator. This was changed to blue in deference to the European standards which mandated blue. In this case, I don't think it was the right move. If there was an objection to red being reserved for immediate emergencies (like a brake failure or an oil pressure loss), OK, but then it could have been an amber/orange warning light for the high beams.
 

-Virgil-

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(I use low beams as DLR on my pre-DLR Prius, and definitely want to know if the high beams are inadvertently switched on.
BTW, 7 years of DLR use of the HID lamps finally required replacement. Not too shabby.

I think you probably mean "DRL" (for Daytime Running Light). You'd spend less gas/bulb/ballast money by actuating the front turn signals as DRLs instead of running the headlamps (like this) but yeah, you got off easy...the HID system on the Prius has a bad reputation for component failure.
 

Alaric Darconville

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Especially the dang highbeam indicator! It's blue. Bright blue. And it won't dim with the rest of the dash lights.
The worst color, the brightest light in the cabin, right at the exact time that you don't want a competing light, when your highbeams are on....

So much this.

My '65 Dart had a rather dim (somewhat easy to miss in daytime/twilight) red light-- but my '76 Corolla and later had an agonizingly blue light that I wish would dim or be a different color at night. I need to stick a piece of gauze over the indicator light or something.
 

harro

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My '65 Dart had a rather dim (somewhat easy to miss in daytime/twilight) red light-- but my '76 Corolla and later had an agonizingly blue light

I think the human eye sees the longer wavelength of red light more easily than that of the shorter wavelength blue, hence also, along with other reasons, the fuzzy halo look you seem to get with blue light. A dull red or orange at night for high's would certainly be nice. Sit inside a popular euro brand of car ( and I'm sure many others also ) and you see red marks and pointers, in conjunction with blue numbers, a poor combo, especially for old eyes like mine!! ( Apologies to OP [ ohh wait... that's me ] for getting off track, but its GREAT to see a bit of lively discussion ).

;)
 
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Franco

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Scheinwerfermann, thank you for taking the time to address my questions and the book referral. I figured that the answers would be such.

As for the glare debate, it is in fact surprisingly fascinating and “wormy”! I tend to incline myself towards the European philosophy, probably in a romanticization of its “do no harm” approach, but I’ll definitely have to check out the studies you mentioned. I should continue educating myself in the matter before going about the development/deconstruction of that opinion though.

In regards to the second half of your last paragraph; while I don’t think that you were implying that I was trying to find ways to rationalize an “HID kit” (just making certain things clear to all), it did occur to me that there might be a certain monotony with people, such as myself, regularly asking about what must be primitive and uneducated thoughts to many of the regulars on this forum, who then need to take the time to correct and direct. If I’m contributing to that, I’d like to apologize.

For the “HID kits” themselves, it’s actually amazing (perhaps only to me) how a superficial amount of research serves as a resounding reinforcement to their unsuitability. From the poor photometry and massive amounts of glare - even to the user, to the poor reliability of a critical piece of equipment and what I consider shady business practices both in the area of origin and of vendors closer to home. There are a multitude of reasons not to instal one.

Especially the dang highbeam indicator! It's blue. Bright blue. And it won't dim with the rest of the dash lights.
The worst color, the brightest light in the cabin, right at the exact time that you don't want a competing light, when your highbeams are on....

A piece of translucent electrical tape placed on the back side of the instrument cluster could probably reduce the intensity... If we're talking about why it is so in the first place, then yeah, fairly asinine. It still comes in second to some of the multimedia screens in some cars though. Talk about horrific nighttime driving conditions.

harro said:
Sit inside a popular euro brand of car...

Actually, some slightly older European cars had really nice setups for nighttime driving. I'm specifically thinking about an early 2000's Audi A6 Wagon with its all red-lit instruments that my father owns. Now that's a nice setup to drive behind.
 

-Virgil-

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Scheinwerfermann, thank you for taking the time to address my questions and the book referral. I figured that the answers would be such.

Happy to be able!

I tend to incline myself towards the European philosophy, probably in a romanticization of its “do no harm” approach

I agree the European glare-minimization preference is tempting, but it can't be called a "do no harm" approach because the cost of less glare is less seeing, and that translates directly to more collisions, which in turn means more injuries and loss of life and property. I think your "romanticization" word pretty well nails it; various segments of the automobile enthusiast community like to espouse a belief that the European lights and regulations are superior to the North American ones, and that is just not factual. There's a laundry list of specific points of comparison where one or the other system is better, but it's roughly a 50/50 count.

And just totalling up the number of American vs. European "wins", even if they are 50/50, doesn't mean it's a wash because some points are more important than others. The European glare-averse philosophy means low beams are aimed far too low to give adequate seeing distance at real-world road speeds. In plain language, people cannot see where they're going. North American low beams (higher peak intensity requirements) aimed to North American specifications (higher) give longer seeing distance. That also means they put out more glare, but as hard as it might be to swallow, rigorous recent research demonstrates that the US levels of glare do not significantly affect glared drivers' driving safety.

I don’t think that you were implying that I was trying to find ways to rationalize an “HID kit”

No, you're right, you're not doing that, and all your questions and comments seem to have some thought and curiosity behind them (that's a good thing!). But the kind of rationalization effort is very common, and right here in this thread we've got an individual trying hard to escape responsibility for his improperly-aimed headlamps by making up other "reasons" why he's getting flashed (the other side of that same wooden nickel is "My headlights are fine; nobody ever flashes me").

For the “HID kits” themselves, it’s actually amazing (perhaps only to me) how a superficial amount of research serves as a resounding reinforcement to their unsuitability.

Yes, but research and science are no match for marketing and bling.

The first cars I had with blue high beam indicators on the dashboard were a '77 Buick and an '83 Ford. Neither of them were objectionably bright under any circumstances. The first car I had with an objectionably bright blue high beam indicator was a '92 VW Golf, which had an LED -- it must have been one of the first commercial blue LEDs. It wasn't as bad as some of today's piercingly bright ones, but it was noticeably brighter than the incandescent blue indicators on the previous cars. I took the lens cover off the instrument panel and applied a black Sharpie to the LED. I was still able to see it (day or night) but at lower intensity.

Actually, some slightly older European cars had really nice setups for nighttime driving. I'm specifically thinking about an early 2000's Audi A6 Wagon with its all red-lit instruments that my father owns. Now that's a nice setup to drive behind.

I'm sure just by age alone I qualify as a genuine old fart, but I think the old dimmable white-to-greenish illumination that used to be more or less standard was fine.
 
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Franco

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Scheinwerfermann said:
The European glare-averse philosophy means low beams are aimed far too low to give adequate seeing distance at real-world road speeds.

That's an easy fix though, just provide auxiliary roadway lighting for all elevated speed highways - voila! That's really only a half joke; my country of origin, Belgium, definitely tried that one ...as you probably knew. Time will tell if that continues to be economically feasible. Hopefully there was a corresponding boon to safety.

'92 VW Golf

Everyone had one of those, apparently. My, ahem, family member (I won't mention the actual title so as not to reinforce "genuine old fart" status) had a five door red Mk2 with the 1.6L diesel, and my aunt had a black one. For fun, I like to think about how much power those engines produced compared to today's. These CAFE requirement sure wouldn't be hard to meet if we could swallow a little downsizing. That's far more than a little off topic though.

I think the old dimmable white-to-greenish illumination that used to be more or less standard was fine.

Only slightly less off topic, but I wonder if the age of computer screens for instrument panels is going to put an end to being able to control the brightness of the instruments. Looks like most of the MMI interfaces now just go into a night mode, so we may be stuck with that eventually.
 
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