The Majority of Motorists bothered by Glare of Headlamps

Auto Diming Mirror

Gentex auto-dimming rear-view mirror eliminates glare

A new European study of night-time driving reveals that a majority of motorists have been dazzled by glare in their rear view mirrors caused by the headlamps of following cars. The study reveals that drivers adopt some obvious, but also some not-so-obvious – and potentially unsafe – strategies for tackling the issue.

More than half the 3,000 motorists questioned by TÜV Rheinland – an organisation which supports research and development in the automotive industry – said they had been ‘often’ or ‘very often’ bothered by headlamp glare; either from their interior or exterior rear view mirrors.

Not surprisingly the top avoidance strategy, adopted by two-thirds of motorists, was simply to adjust the position of their interior mirror.  For exterior mirrors, the preferred tactic was to adjust the body position followed by a tilt of the head, but more than a third of drivers admit to tuning their exterior mirrors downward or outward in order to redirect the glare away from the eyes.

Another technique employed by a small number of motorists was to wear sunglasses.  Curiously, twice as many British drivers (9.2 per cent) were likely to use this method compared with drivers from France (5.4 per cent) or Germany (5.1 per cent).

Other common practices include squinting (44 per cent of motorists) or blocking the glare with their hand (21.3 per cent).  A small number (1.8 per cent) would block the glare with whatever they were holding at the time.

The technical solution already available from carmakers is to offer automatic-dimming mirrors.  Indeed, half the participants taking part in the study already had this feature fitted to their cars and were convinced it contributed to safety and helped prevent accidents.

Such owners typically stated that since they have had automatic-dimming mirrors driving at night was safer and they felt less dazzled by the headlamps of other cars.  They also cited improved concentration and less visual fatigue.

One of the key findings of the study, however, was that the majority of non-owners were unaware of automatic-dimming mirrors.  Even a significant minority (27.5 per cent) of owners were oblivious to automatic-dimming mirrors already fitted when they purchased their cars.

“What this study shows is that too many motorists are unaware of automatic-dimming mirrors and their safety benefits,” said Klaus Weibler, managing director of European operations for Gentex, the USA-based manufacturer of automatic-dimming rear view mirrors, which supplies the worldwide auto industry and commissioned the study.

“The vast majority (71 per cent) of European drivers participating in this market research, who didn’t have this feature in their car, were totally unaware of it.  And more than one in four (28 per cent) of motorists even with this equipment already fitted did not know they had it.  However, once motorists are aware of the feature they express very positive attitudes saying it makes for much safer night-time driving and less fatigue.”

According to Gentex, approximately 19 per cent of new vehicles manufactured worldwide offer an interior automatic-dimming mirror.  For luxury and premium brands the feature is typically standard equipment, with fitment rates increasing rapidly among the mid and small vehicle segments.

22 February 2008 Staff

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