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Ask The Times: Are there no laws on how bright headlights can be?
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Traffic flows through the intersection at E E Butler Parkway and Jesse Jewell Parkway on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following question was submitted by a reader and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

Is there no regulation on car lights? 

There are so many cars with bright daylight lights now that are blinding lights at night and are dangerous to other drivers. Don’t people or authorities see or experience these issues when they are on the roads?

Gainesville Police Officer Nick Smith said there are no specific restrictions in Georgia on the brightness a headlight can emit.

“We do recognize that today’s headlights are becoming exceptionally more powerful than in the past, leading to blinding issues, but without any kind of legal repercussions for this type of light, we are left with no way to enforce such a thing,” Smith wrote in an email.

According to the Georgia code, all cars on the road must have at least two working headlights capable of illuminating “discernible persons and vehicles on the highway at a distance of 500 feet ahead.”

There is a code section, however, that says a driver must switch to the “low-beams” setting when within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle. And there are restrictions in relation to spotlights, light bars, etc. But headlight brightness, for now, is not regulated.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed an amendment to the federal motor vehicle safety standard to allow adaptive driving beam headlighting systems.

These systems “use advanced technology that actively modifies the headlamp beams to provide more illumination while not glaring other vehicles,” according to the administration’s proposal.

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