Many vehicle headlights get 'poor' rating in new study

- If you can't see well driving at night, a new safety test shows your headlights could be to blame.

A study released  Wednesday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that most cars on the road have inadequate headlights, making it difficult for drivers to see at a distance and spot obstacles in the road.

"It's like they're not on, and I'm only getting light from the things around me," said Tampa driver Annette Boyd. "I think the lens is just not clear enough to reflect the light."

Among the 31 mid-sized cars tested, the Toyota Prius earned the only "good" rating.

Its LED lights allow drivers to see obstacles up to 387 feet ahead.

Cars earning an "acceptable" rating with their headlight system include:

Audi A3
Nissan Maxima
Honda Accord 4-door
Infiniti Q50
Volkswagen CC
Lexus ES
Volkswagen Jetta
Lexus IS
Volvo S60
Mazda 6

Cars earning a "marginal" rating include:

Acura TLX
Ford Fusion
Audi A4
Lincoln MKZ
BMW 2-series
BMW 3-Series
Subaru Legacy
Toyota Camry
Chrysler 200

Cars earning a "poor" ratings in their best-possible configuration include:

Buick Verano
Kia Optima
Cadillac ATS
Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Chevy Malibu
Mercedes-Benz CLA
Hyundai Sonata
Nissan Altima
Volkswagen Passat

The BMW 3 Series scored the lowest. Its halogen lights only let drivers see 128 feet in front of them, according to researchers.

To read the complete study, visit 

"If you're on a dark road, you can't see something coming, whether it's a deer or an object lying in the road," said Daniel Fox, a manager at Advance Auto Parts on Kennedy Blvd.

He said technicians often see customers wanting to swap their factory headlights for a brighter version. They typically recommend high-powered LED lights as an alternative.

"They have more wattage, and they'll give you more distance and more width. Dark roads obviously don't have a lot of light. They'll be better so you can see further down the road," explained Fox.

Experts said roughly half of all traffic deaths happen between dusk and dawn. The IHS is encouraging automakers to improve the aim of their headlights in newly modeled cars.

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