Toyota has the technology to make nighttime driving safer and is petitioning U.S. lawmakers to bring it to North America. Could a revolution in night driving be coming soon?
A story on Autonews.com says that Toyota has used a headlight with a built-in camera in 16,600 cars sold in Europe and Japan. It is not available in the U.S. due to a 1999 U.S. regulation that banned their use.
The system uses “cameras to detect other cars and automatically dim the portions of the high beam that would shine in other drivers’ eyes.” This makes driving safer since high beams can be used more and thus better illuminate the road for nighttime driving.
Toyota is now petitioning U.S. lawmakers to take a second look at the 1999 regulation to consider allowing the technology to be used in America. Estimates, done by Toyota, are that the technology could save nine out of the 2,334 pedestrians annually killed in the U.S. during dark driving situations. While that doesn’t seem like a lot of lives, saving one life by improving regulations and using technology already available is a big deal.
The NHTSA is open to discussing the rules changes according to a statement provided to Automotive News. They said they will start looking into the issue this year and welcomes input from Toyota.
Historically, headlights have been limited to just two settings: low beam and high beams. Having an in-between setting automatically controlled by a camera/computer could very well be the future of headlights. This new feature will not only be more convenient it might also offer “potentially significant safety benefits” as stated in Toyota’s petition.
Increasing the visibility at night through smarter technology and better regulations seems like a no-brainer. While Toyota estimates that just nine people a year can be saved, one could also estimate that many “near-misses” will be avoided.
What do you think? Good or bad idea?