HID stands for High Intensity Discharge commonly referred to Xenon (ZEE-NON) headlamps. We have all seen these super bright blue/white headlights once reserved for the most expensive automobiles. Today many manufactures include HID or even newer technology super bright CREE LED (Light Emitting Diode) headlamps as standard equipment, even on economy cars. HID and LED headlamps are more energy efficient and can last much longer than a conventional halogen bulb. They also produce more light. A properly designed HID or LED headlamp can put more light further down the road than a conventional bulb. The key here is properly designed. More and more people are going to the store or ordering online do-it-yourself kits. If your vehicle did not come from the factory with HID or LED headlamps, adding them is illegal! Why? HID and LED headlamps require more than a bulb upgrade to meet legal requirements. For more than you ever wanted to know about vehicle lighting laws go here.
In order to comply with federal law, HID and LED headlamp assemblies are specifically designed in order to maintain an acceptable light output pattern and not create excessive glare. Auto manufacturers use several systems to comply with the law such as: auto leveling systems, headlamp washers, and special reflector and projection lens assemblies. Chances are, if you have experienced a blinding effect from a blue/white color headlamp, it was not from a factory installed system. You may have also been blinded by a vehicle with factory installed HID / LED headlamps that has been raised. The owners of these raised vehicles often fail to adjust the aim of their headlamps, and because the bulbs are so much brighter, the blinding effect is magnified. A raised vehicle with illegal aftermarket HID or LED headlamps is even worse. Here is an interesting video from “across the pond.”
Depending on your automobile, installing aftermarket HID or LED headlights could actually make your vision down road worse, as well as blinding oncoming drivers. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the driver of a 3000+ pound vehicle coming toward me at 45 MPH to be BLINDED! The thought makes you want to have your Tampa personal injury lawyer on speed dial! Here is an interesting experiment.
NOT JUST A TRAFFIC TICKET!
In Florida, a driver can be liable for damages in an accident even if they were only partially at fault. If you drive with illegal headlights that contribute to an accident this could subject you to liability even if your blame is minimal, it’s called comparative negligence.
Let’s say you install illegal HID or LED headlights on your vehicle and go driving in Tampa, Florida, and the driver who is coming toward you, who is also speeding, gets blinded by your lights. He swerves off the road and hits a natural gas line that was improperly installed too close to the side of the road; the gas leaks out and a 20-square-mile area around Tampa has to be evacuated. Then, the gas explodes and does 5 billion dollars in damage. Well, even if your illegal lights are found only to be 1 percent at fault, the other driver is found 49 percent at fault and the gas company is found 50 percent at fault, you will be liable for 50 million dollars! Now that’s an extreme case, but what if someone is killed or injured severely? What if a child is hurt? You don’t want to have been even 1 percent to blame for a tragedy that could easily have been avoided. Be smart and drive with legal lights, and if you raise your vehicle, lower your headlights’ aim!
And if you must have those super bright headlights, make sure they were factory installed.
Tip: if you live or drive under conditions that need super bright lighting, install an auxiliary light system and use it only when it will not affect other drivers.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident caused by illegal or improperly adjusted headlights click here.