Directly in front of the car you don’t need any light – that’s what we often say. And in fact, everything you identify as late as five or ten meters in front of the car has no chance. Even the best of brakes and the shortest of reaction times won’t help you. At least not above walking speed. The crux of the matter is that darkness in the near field irritates many drivers. It’s there that they miss light more than they do 50 to 75 meters away. So why not illuminate both areas?
Developers find it difficult, at least in halogen headlights. They don’t have as much light available as they’d like. And what ends up in the near field is missing further ahead where it is important for identifying hazards in time. In contrast, engineers at Osram have managed to move the light, which from a technical point of view is superfluous in the near field, further ahead. The result is upgrade lamps such as the Night Breaker.
With xenon and LED both are possible
Lighting technology is one dilemma, psychology another. The one involving xenon headlights is easier to solve. This technology delivers two to three times as much light as halogen which means that some of it is dispensable in the distance. This is reflected in a light distribution that provides a lot of brightness right up to the car. It’s also much wider than in halogen, which is also perceived as pleasant.
LED technology offers another option. It consists of a few additional LEDs which illuminate the close range only. The light-emitting diodes for dipped beam and high beam can fully focus on delivering light to the areas further ahead.
Dipped beam headlights optimized for areas on the right side of the road – or left in the case of left-hand traffic – which are between 50 and 75 meters away, are not very useful of course if the driver doesn’t even see that far. That’s the case in fog, heavy rain or snowfall. That’s why the range of fog lights is much smaller than that of dipped beam headlights. But their beam is wider. So fog lights could provide additional near-field illumination if the area in front of the car is perceived as too dark. Traffic rules in Germany only allow them, though, if the weather really reduces visibility.