There are several reasons why high beam headlights are so seldom used by Central European drivers. One is that the sheer amount of traffic means individual cars are seldom the only vehicles on any given stretch of road. Another reason is the increasing urbanization, causing many journeys to be traveled entirely within towns and cities. For vehicles such as taxis and city buses, high beam headlights play a practically non-existent role. But, even on the loneliest of country roads, a number of drivers continue to rely solely on their low beams. Some simply forget that their headlights have a higher setting. Others don’t switch to their high beams (or not for long enough) because they’re worried about blinding other drivers. And then there are those road users who simply can’t be bothered.
Considerably longer range
We can only hope that drivers who ignore their high beams keep their speed down to suitable levels. Maintaining an adequate sight distance is a basic rule of driving, and, even with the best low beam lighting, it’s not possible to keep to this when traveling at much more than 80 km/h. At higher speeds than this, cars needing to make an emergency stop would come to a standstill in an area of the road not previously illuminated by the headlights. In Germany and many other countries, vehicles traveling on highways are the only exceptions to this basic rule, but only where the course of the road is clearly identifiable by means of installations such as marker posts. Vehicles using their high beam headlights can travel at practically any speed permitted on the particular stretch of road they are using.
A reluctance to use high beams appears to be a Central Europe phenomenon, despite general agreement among experts that it could be employed more often. In Scandinavia, for example, drivers utilize their high beam headlights on a more frequent basis. In thinly populated regions, it is sometimes the setting of choice. What’s more, owners in such areas still like to install auxiliary headlamps on their vehicles, despite the fact that modern car designs make this increasingly problematic. However, maximum possible illumination is not really necessary for high beams. Huge ranges of 500 meters or more are seldom if ever advantageous. So people shouldn’t judge a car’s headlights by its high beam power – they should focus more on the low beam.
Glare-free high beams
Even though high beam headlights play such a minor role for some drivers, they’re not going away anytime soon. And that’s not just because they’re a mandatory requirement. In point of fact, it’s not impossible that they’ll endure for longer than their low beam counterparts. Representing the current state-of-the-art, glare-free high beam headlights are no longer a rigidly distinct variant. In any given situation, they put the maximum amount of light onto the road that’s possible without dazzling the occupants of oncoming vehicles. Most of the time, this results in a significantly greater level of illumination than when using low beams.