Imagine if you could drive at night with your high beams on all the time, bathing the road ahead in bright light but without ever blinding other drivers.
In Europe and Asia, many cars offer adaptive driving beam headlights that can do this. ADB is a lighting technology that has been available for many years in other parts of the world including Europe, China and Canada, but not in the United States.
It can actually shape the light coming from headlights rather than scattering it all over the road. If there’s a car coming in the other direction, or one driving ahead in the same lane, the light stays precisely away from that vehicle. The rest of the road is still covered in bright light with just a pocket of dimmer light around the other vehicles. This way a deer, pedestrian or bicyclist by the side of the road can still be seen clearly while other drivers sharing the road can see, too.
In America, the closest we can get to that today are automatic high beams, a feature available on many new cars that automatically flicks off the high beams if another vehicle is detected ahead. But that still means driving much – or most – of the time using only low beam headlights that don’t reach very far. That can be dangerous.
US auto safety regulations enacted in 2022 were supposed to finally allow ADB headlight, something for which the auto industry and safety groups had long been asking for. But, according to automakers and safety advocates, the new rules make it difficult for automakers to add the feature. That means it will probably be years before ADB headlights are widely available in the US.
ADB-enabled headlights already are sold on some luxury cars in America.