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Study: Most SUV headlights leave a lot to be desired

Headlights on newer models of sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) are snazzier than they used to be. They're also safer. However, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), many don't meet acceptable standards.

The IIHS recently released a report on headlight performance for 37 mid-size SUVs. Of those, just two -- the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Volvo XC60 -- earned a rating of "good." Twelve were rated "acceptable," another 12 were "marginal" and the remaining 11 got a rating of "poor."

Those results are still better than for the small SUVs that the IIHS tested last year. More than half of the headlights on the 21 vehicles tested were labeled "poor."

One of the problems found on some of the SUVs tested was that the headlights weren't aimed correctly when they were installed by the manufacturer. Excessive glare can be another problem. Researchers also looked at the length of visibility provided by low beam lights and whether they are curve-adaptive.

Interestingly, U.S. regulations allow standards that are below that for Japanese and European automakers, and some advancements like adaptive beam headlights. They dim to minimize the glare for oncoming motorists while allowing high beams to stay on so that the driver can see the road ahead.

Of course, there are still advancements that automakers can take advantage of to make their headlights more adaptable to road conditions and therefore make their vehicles safer. If drivers realize that their headlights don't work as optimally as they should, it's their responsibility to take extra care to watch the road ahead carefully and make sure that their headlights aren't blinding other drivers.

Drivers and passengers who are injured by a motorist with less-than-safe headlights can and should determine what their legal options are for seeking compensation.

Source: USA Today, "Only 2 of 37 mid-size SUVs offer 'good' headlights, IIHS says," Nathan Romey, June 13, 2017

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