The latest isn’t always the greatest

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A study by University of Michigan researchers says conventional headlights are safer than the newer, high-intensity lights.

The old design illuminates the center of the road better making them safer at night on straight roads, says the study.

The findings also blame the the blazing, blue-white, high-intensity-discharge lights for several medical and vision problems. Researchers suggest the ultra bright designs have lead to blinding, migraine-headache auras as well as reduced night vision of older drivers.

The study, by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), compares performance of HID and tungsten-halogen headlights.

“The report does not show the visual advantages of HIDs to be as great as a lot of people in the lighting community probably expected,” says Michael Flannagan, a senior researcher on the study.

Overall, it shows that HID lights put out more illumination than tungsten-halogen ones, but mainly to the sides of the road rather than straight ahead.

“The extra width (of an HID beam) is good for curves, but our overall position … is that light right down the middle is more important for safety,” Flannagan says.

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