Nine in every 10 UK motorists think other cars’ headlights are too bright, according to a study by the RAC. The motoring organisation’s research found 89 percent of the 2,700 drivers it questioned believe some or most car headlights are too bright, with 88 percent of those claiming they get dazzled while driving.

The research suggested the problem is getting worse, with almost two-thirds (63 percent) of those who get dazzled claiming it happens more often than it did one or two years ago. And one in four (24 percent) of respondents who got dazzled said it was happening a lot more regularly than in recent years.

For many, the bright lights are a safety concern, with 64 percent of motorists who believe headlights are too bright thinking the issue is an accident risk. Similarly, 67 percent of drivers say they can’t tell whether other cars’ lights are on dipped or full beam.

Audi Q7 Matrix Headlights

The problem of bright headlights seems to be putting some drivers off using the roads at night. Some 16 percent of those who complain about headlight intensities say they avoid driving at night altogether, with women (22 percent) and those aged 65 and over (24 percent) much more likely to take that approach than men, of whom just nine percent have stopped driving at night.

Even so, it’s younger drivers who seem more likely to complain about the brightness of oncoming cars’ headlights, with 30 percent of 17-34-year-olds thinking most lights are too bright, compared with 19 percent of over-65s.

Xenon headlight and lower foglight

Drivers seem unable to work out why lights appear to be getting brighter, with rules in place to stop manufacturers fitting headlights that emit too much light. Almost a quarter (23 percent) of respondents blamed the LED headlights fitted to an increasing number of modern vehicles, while 22 percent weren’t sure if any particular sort of headlight was to blame.

Some 17 percent said they felt the problems were caused by the angle of oncoming vehicles’ beams, and that’s backed up by other aspects of the research. Six in 10 drivers of “lower” vehicles such as hatchbacks, saloons and estates (61 percent) said headlights on taller vehicles were to blame, while just 28 percent of drivers in taller vehicles blamed other SUV and van drivers.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Headlight

“It’s clear that the problem of drivers being dazzled by the headlights of others isn’t going away, and in fact our research shows that a large proportion of drivers say they’re getting dazzled more regularly now than a year or two ago,” said RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis. “What’s more, and perhaps surprisingly, it’s younger drivers who are more likely to complain about glare which suggests the matter has little – if anything – to do with an individual’s eyesight.

“There are a number of factors that contribute to whether a headlight dazzles another driver or not, the most important being the angle of the headlights as you look at them. If they’re not angled properly – or the driver in the oncoming car has forgotten to dip their headlights – there’s every chance you’re going to get blinded. Modern LED headlight technology may also have a part to play as the human eye reacts to the so-called ‘blue light’ from LEDs differently to the ‘yellow light’ of conventional halogen headlights.

“This presents a real irony: the brighter and better your vehicle’s headlights are, the clearer your night-time view of the road ahead is, but it seems that’s often at the expense of anyone coming towards you. The full intensity of your headlights – especially if they’re not angled down correctly – can cause oncoming drivers to momentarily glance away from the road or even be blinded for a few seconds. In short, being dazzled isn’t just about discomfort, it also represents a significant road safety risk.”