Brad Pistotnik Law
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Can Faulty Headlights Cause a Collision?

Can Faulty Headlights Cause a Collision?

Can faulty headlights cause a motor vehicle accident? Are vehicle manufacturers taking steps to protect drivers from these mechanical defects? Headlight failures can limit a motorist's ability to see the road, and reduce the vehicle's visibility to oncoming traffic. When headlight failures occur, they are frequently caused by faulty components including bad fuses, defective relays, or malfunctioning modules.

Federal regulations state that a standard headlight should illuminate a distance of between 150-200 feet on low-beams, and 250-350 feet on high-beams. Many state laws also require motorists to turn on their headlights when snow, rain, or sleet are present, and at anytime they are traveling through road construction zones, tunnels, etc. Further, when visibility is less than 500 feet at sunrise/sunset, motorists are required to turn their lights on.

Headlights also increase the vehicle's visibility to other motorists during the day. Daytime headlight usage can reduce two-vehicle accidents by approximately 5.7%, pedestrian accidents by 12%, and motorcycle accidents by 23%.

When one or both headlights fail, the driver's ability to see the road ahead is significantly diminished. This increases the potential of striking pedestrians, animals, or obstructions in the roadway. By the time an obstruction appears in the driver's line of sight, it is often too late for the driver to safely maneuver away from an impending collision.

Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) highlights the importance of properly functioning headlights in preventing accidents. Similarly, data from the AAA shows that headlamp lenses are an often overlooked mechanical defect. As the lenses age and become yellowed or cloudy, they can reduce light output by as much as 78% which significantly reduces the driver's ability to see the road ahead and increases their likelihood of an accident.

Vehicle manufacturers are increasingly recalling vehicles whose headlights have mechanical defects. In 2015, General Motors recalled more than 180,000 Pontiac and Buick vehicles due to headlight faults that could cause low-beam headlights to fail. This followed an earlier recall of 316,000 Trailblazers, Envoys, Isuzus and other vehicles in 2014 for the same problem which arose from defective headlamp modules.

In 2016, KIA recalled nearly 3,100 vehicles due to headlamp failures that could cause the lights to flicker on/off, or completely shut off following extended operation. While it hasn't occurred yet, consumers are putting pressure on General Motors to recall more than 300,000 Cadillacs following reports that condensation can build up within the headlamps and corrode components which can result in sudden headlamp failure.

Call in the Bull when you have a car accident caused by mechanical defects. Our attorneys represent clients in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas. You can call us at 1-800-241-BRAD, or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400 to speak with an attorney. You can reach Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can call Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237. You can call from Western Kansas at 620-THE-BULL to discuss the ways we can help you move forward after a wreck.