Headlights on most pickup trucks provide poor road lighting


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested 11 different pickup trucks rating their headlights. All but one was rated poor. In an age when technology is making cars safer, motor vehicle manufacturers seem to have dropped the ball when it comes to headlights.

The IIHS study showed that late-model pickup trucks either blind other drivers and/or provide insufficient road lighting. Of the four small pickups studied, all headlights earned a poor rating, as did 3 out of 7 large pickups. The exception on a large pickup was the Honda Ridgeline, which received a good rating.

The IIHS has studied vehicle headlights before in 2016: midsize cars and SUVs. The Institute was not impressed with those results either.

“These latest ratings follow the same disappointing pattern as the other groups,” says Matthew Brumbelow, an IIHS senior research engineer. “As vehicle safety has improved in recent years, this important equipment has been overlooked.”

According to an IIHS news release, “IIHS launched its headlight ratings after finding that government standards based on laboratory tests allow for huge variation in the amount of illumination headlights provide in on-road driving. In the Institute’s evaluations, engineers measure how far light is projected from a vehicle’s low beams and high beams as the vehicle travels straight and on curves. Glare from low beams for oncoming drivers also is measured.”

The Results: Pickup truck headlight ratings by the IIHS

Of the 11 trucks studied, there were a total of 23 possible headlight combinations. Of these combinations, 14 had excessive glare.

  • The Ridgeline’s RTL-E and Black Edition were considered good, as their LED low beams provide fair to good visibility on most approaches, with inadequate visibility only on the gradual left curve. High-beam assist, a feature that automatically switches on high beams if no other vehicles are present, makes up for some of the deficiencies of the low beams.
  • The GMC Sierra had acceptable-rated headlights available on certain trims. Other versions earned a marginal or poor rating.
  • The two kinds of headlights available on the Nissan Titan both earned a marginal rating. The Ram 1500 had marginal headlights on certain trim levels, while others had poor ones.
  • The Ford F-150, the centerpiece of the best-selling F-Series line, was among the poorest performers. Both the base halogen and the optional LED low beams provided inadequate visibility in all test scenarios, including both sides of the straightaway, on sharp curves in both directions and on gradual curves in both directions. The LED lights also produced unacceptable glare. The high beams on both versions had mostly inadequate visibility too.
  • The headlights with the worst visibility were on the Chevrolet Colorado. The halogen reflector low beams on the pickup’s base trim illuminated to only 123 feet on the right side of the straightaway. In contrast, the Ridgeline LED low beams illuminated to 358.

If you are considering purchasing a pickup truck for 2017, I would advise that you really research which pickup trucks include not only an overall safety crash rating, but that their headlight systems received a high or good rating.

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Image Courtesy of Pixabay: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Source: Insurance Institute of Highway Safety

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