Study: Your Headlights May Not Be Keeping You Safe

A big headline Wednesday about car headlights. ABC's Good Morning America got an exclusive first look at a new study that says there is a good chance yours aren't powerful enough.

"We were very surprised," said Matthew Brumbelow, Senior Research Engineer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says of the results of tests on the effectiveness of car headlights.

The IIHS calls the results "dismal", which is important because nearly half of all accidents (49%) happen at dusk or in the dark. There are government regulations about how much light a headlight bulb puts out, but no standards for how far it must reach when installed on the car and aimed by the manufacturer.

"So you could have the same light, aim it differently, have it at a different height and you'll get a totally different amount of visibility," said Brumbelow.

The IIHS believesw a headlight on low beams should provide illumination for at least 330 feet on a straightaway, but the poorest performer in the test reached only 130 feet. Researchers fear the poor performers can be a danger at highway speeds.

Of the more than 30 cars that were tested to see how far their lights would shine, the worst performer was the BMW 3 Series. The best performer was the Toyota Prius V. In fact, the Prius V, which is equipped with LED lights, is the only car tested that earned a "Good" rating.

A BMW 3 with halogen lights tested near the bottom, but another BMW 3 with a swivel LED system tested in the top third. The IIHS says car makers are already paying attention to the tests.

To see if your car was tested and where it ranked, click here.

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