IIHS to Start Testing Headlights, Score Could Affect TSP+ Consideration

Automakers who want their vehicles to earn the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards will have to start making smart headlights a priority, as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is adding a standalone test for headlights to its existing battery of safety evaluations.

Next year, the IIHS will add a rating program for headlights. Adaptive headlights use cameras, sensors, and motors to help direct the headlight beams toward corners or dips in the road. The technology has been employed by some manufacturers like Porsche, Audi, Hyundai, and others, but IIHS hopes the feature will enter the mainstream.

"We've studied all of these different innovations to the extent we're able, and the strongest signal we get back from the data is that the steerable headlights are associated with the largest reductions of crashes reported to insurers," IIHS chief research officer David Zuby told Automotive News in an interview.

Those findings led IIHS to take a closer look at the technology with a standalone test. While adaptive headlights have the ability to adjust to the road ahead, other innovations include the ability to dim automatically when an oncoming vehicle is sensed. Zuby went on to say, "It makes sense that if drivers can see better at night, they'll be involved in fewer crashes at night."

If all goes well with the new test, a good headlight score could be a requirement for TSP+ consideration as early as 2017.

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