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National highway safety authority proposes to legalize adaptive headlights

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National highway safety authority proposes to legalize adaptive headlights

A proposal from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration aims to legalize adaptive headlights in the United States.

Toyota Motor Corp. petitioned the NHTSA in 2013 to allow automakers to equip their vehicles with adaptive driving beam systems, which provide more illumination without causing glare to other vehicles. The vehicle switches automatically from the upper headlight beam to the lower beam when approaching an oncoming vehicle, according to the NHTSA's notice of proposed rulemaking.

The system "is designed to help improve lighting and visibility for the driver and help reduce glare for other drivers," Brian Lyons, Toyota's senior manager for advanced technology communications, told S&P Global Market Intelligence in an email.

"The system provides better lighting along the roadways for drivers to identify pedestrians, cyclists, animals, etc. earlier," Lyons said.

The adaptive driving beam system is available in foreign markets but not offered in the United States, according to the NHTSA, which is part of the U.S. Transportation Department.

Lyons said Toyota has been selling vehicles with the advanced headlights in Europe and Japan.

The NHTSA proposal would amend the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards by changing the existing requirements for lower beam photometry, or measuring light in terms of perceived brightness to the human eye.

NHTSA also proposes laboratory and real-world testing to evaluate the beams' performance in recognizing other vehicles and not causing glare for them, according to the notice.