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LRC News

March 2009
New Method to Reduce Headlamp Glare and Maintain Maximum Roadway Visibility

Evidence indicates that present-day low-beam vehicle headlamps do not provide sufficient visibility for driving speeds higher than 30 to 40 mph. However, few drivers use their high beams for fear of creating glare for oncoming motorists. Some vehicle lighting manufacturers have developed sensors that determine the distance and location of oncoming vehicles and adjust the headlamps' brightness to reduce glare. However, this adjustment can also inhibit the driver's visibility.

Through research funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), LRC scientists developed a method, called the Prime Beam, designed to work in conjunction with sensors to maximize visibility with high-beam headlights. It works by removing the precise angular region of the headlamp beam pattern that creates glare for oncoming drivers. As demonstrated in field tests, the method allows drivers to leave their high beams on to achieve maximum roadway visibility without the fear of causing glare for oncoming drivers.

This development culminates a two-year research program examining the causes and effects of headlamp glare, including the risks associated with glare to oncoming drivers, increased risks to drivers on two-lane highways, increased risks to drivers over the age of 50, and the overall effects of glare on driver performance. Learn more.

About the Lighting Research Center

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, N.Y., and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. The LRC offers the world's premier graduate education in lighting, including one- and two-year master's programs and a Ph.D. program. Since 1988 the LRC has built an international reputation as a reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. The LRC also provides training programs for government agencies, utilities, contractors, lighting designers, and other lighting professionals. Visit

Contact:lrcnewsletter@rpi.eduPhotos & Graphics:Dennis Guyon
Editor:Mary CimoWeb Production:Joann Coffey
Contributing Writers:Jennifer Taylor, Mary Cimo
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