Despite being one the most respected and cited authorities on vehicle safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is widely misunderstood. Like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA,) the IIHS painstakingly researches the effectiveness of vehicle safety features, but unlike the NHTSA, which is part of the department of transportation, the IIHS is an independent, nonprofit organization.
For an independent research company, the IIHS has had a remarkable impact on carmakers. Innovations like rollover testing and the small overlap test have helped keep car companies prepare for real-world situations and save lives in the process. The IIHS has now turned its attention to a new frontier of safety innovation: headlights.
Specifically, the IIHS has identified adaptive headlight technology, which Hyundai and Kia have recently introduced on select models, as a promising emerging innovation in accident prevention. As soon as 2017, carmakers that want to achieve IIHS’ coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation, which highlights vehicles that use technology to enhance their already industry-leading safety features. So what can adaptive headlights do to make driving safer?
In short, by using cameras and wheel-direction to aim headlights in line with the vehicle’s trajectory, adaptive headlights make driving at night safer. The Highway Loss Data Institute, IIHS’ research division, found that vehicles with adaptive headlights are considerably less likely to be involved in property-damage liability claims than vehicles with traditional, fixed headlights.
As a result of this research, the IIHS will make headlight technology a focus moving forward, and carmakers will almost certainly start adopting headlight tech they would have waited to implement as a result of new IIHS standards. By releasing vehicles with adaptive headlights before most of the world’s automakers, Hyundai and Kia have cemented themselves as frontrunners for future IIHS safety rankings. Gorgeous, safe, and fun to drive, things are looking good for Hyundai and Kia!