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Toyota Pushes NHTSA on “Tunable” Headlamps

Toyota Motor Corp. has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to allow headlamp systems in the U.S. that allow drivers to leave their high beams on without blinding oncoming traffic, Automotive News reports.Several carmakers have showcased such systems, and Toyota has sold nearly 17,000 vehicle equipped with the technology in Europe and Japan.

Toyota Motor Corp. has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to allow headlamp systems in the U.S. that allow drivers to leave their high beams on without blinding oncoming traffic, Automotive News reports.

Several carmakers have showcased such systems, and Toyota has sold nearly 17,000 vehicle equipped with the technology in Europe and Japan. Current NHTSA standards, which haven’t changed in 14 years, require low and high beams but allow no other option.


Toyota system uses shutters to block high-beam glare.

The tunable high beams use a camera to monitor approaching traffic. The system activates shutters or switchable light arrays within the headlamp assembly to dim or block high-beam output pointed at oncoming traffic.

Safety experts note that many motorists “over-drive” their lights at night by simply leaving the low beams on under all driving conditions. Proponents say self-adjusting high beams contribute to safer night driving by providing superior illumination without requiring drivers to constantly switch between low and high beams.

Toyota estimates that its shutter-based system could avoid nine nighttime pedestrian fatalities per year in the U.S. The NHTSA tells AN it will launch an evaluation of new headlamp technologies later this year.