Vehicle manufacturers are constantly working to improve the performance and safety features of new models. One of the features in
pickup trucksand small cars that is getting more attention is the headlight system.
What is AFS?
An adaptive front-lighting system (AFS) is headlights that swivel in the direction a vehicle is turning to help increase visibility. The headlights are controlled by a link to the steering wheel and move to shine in the direction of travel. This can help with visibility in bends, especially on streets without lighting.
Cars.comsays that the technology, also known as curve adaptive headlights, is available on vehicles from Honda, Mazda, Toyota, Porsche, and other automakers. Regular headlights typically point straight ahead.
The AFS systems may differ depending on the manufacturer. Some turn the wheel based on steering wheel angle, while others rely on sensors. In general, AFS systems will pivot low-beam headlights up to 15 degrees.
History of adaptive headlights
Adaptive headlights are not a new idea, but they might be less common because they’re more expensive than conventional halogen headlights.
The 1948 Tucker was one of the first vehicles to have headlights that moved to face the direction the car was turning. The company failed after only 51 cars were built, so their innovative car features weren’t mass-produced. The Tucker had two fixed headlights and a third one in the center, which was called the "Cyclops eye," that pivoted when the car turned.
Luxury models were the first to feature adaptive headlights in the early 2000s. The technology has started to spread to other lower-cost models.
Why does headlight performance matter?
The location and brightness of your headlights have a significant impact on how well you can avoid obstacles. The
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety(IIHS) evaluates headlights as part of its safety testing. Cars must achieve a grade of good or acceptable for headlight performance to receive the highest overall vehicle rating of Top Safety Pick Plus.
In a study of 2010 Mazda 3 vehicles, IIHS found that adaptive headlights reduced nighttime collision claims by 10%. Vehicles equipped with adaptive lighting and high-intensity bulbs give the driver more time to avoid obstacles and stop in time.
The best headlights should provide good visibility without a lot of glare. Headlights with an adaptive driving beam are another system that can help with driver visibility. The system adjusts the high-beam pattern to create a shadow around other vehicles. The adaptive driving beams give high-beam visibility but block out an area to limit glare.
Adaptive driving beams are currently prohibited in the U.S., but in 2018 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said they would consider allowing them.
The impact of AFS on insurance claims
About half of traffic deaths happen in the dark. Most of these accidents are caused by reduced visibility and driver fatigue. According to Cars.com, a 2020 IIHS report said that curve-adaptive headlights were associated with 5.8% fewer property damage loss claims and 1.1% fewer collision claims.
However, there was a 4.7% increase in the severity of collision claims, meaning the average cost of claims was higher. There are many safety systems to choose from depending on your car model, so be sure to research which ones perform well and are also cost-friendly.
Owning a car with safety features can make your car insurance cheaper.
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