OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The folks at AAA Oklahoma say new cars will have safer headlights in two years, and they are giving drivers advice on how to drive more safely at night.

Seventy-five percent of pedestrian deaths occur at night, according to AAA Oklahoma.

Eighty-six pedestrians died and 143 others were seriously injured in Oklahoma’s 682 crashes involving pedestrians in 2020, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.

“Driving after dark carries the highest fatality rate for both drivers and pedestrians,” says Leslie Gamble, spokesperson for AAA Oklahoma. “Given the sharp increase in fatalities on U.S. roadways – especially pedestrian fatalities – the updated headlight standards will literally be a lifesaving improvement.”

A police car stopping a vehicle at night. (Credit: Getty Creative)

Halogen headlights on most U.S. vehicles do not safely illuminate unlit roadways at speeds above 40 mph, AAA Automotive Engineering research found.

“These headlights do not give drivers enough time to see, react and brake to avoid a pedestrian or object in the roadway,” AAA personnel said.

New cars made two years from now will be equipped with adaptive driving beam headlights that increase roadway lighting by as much as 86 percent compared to the low beam headlights equipped on vehicles, according to AAA.

Until the new and improved headlights are implemented, AAA recommends the following precautions to drivers:

  • If your car’s headlamp lenses are anything but crystal clear, have them restored or replaced to improve light output.
  • Unlike batteries or tires, most drivers don’t routinely inspecting their headlights. AAA suggests drivers check their headlights for changes in appearance such as yellowing or clouding. If the bulb is difficult to see, it is time to have the lenses replaced or restored as soon as possible. At three-to-five years old, vehicles can begin showing signs of headlight deterioration. With the average age of a car on U.S. roads now at 12.1 years old, many are driving without the benefit of the best lighting available.
  • Restoring headlights, while the most cost effective option, offers less of an improvement in light output than replacement. Professional and DIY restoration returned light output back to approximately 70% in AAA’s research.
  • Replacing headlights with original equipment manufacturer parts is the most effective method to restore light output back to 100%. Aftermarket parts also performed well, restoring light output between 83 and 90%.
  • AAA recommends replacement since it offers the most improvement in the amount of light produced. Both replacement and restoration services are provided at AAA Car Care Centers in central Oklahoma and at AAA Approved Auto Repair shops statewide.
  • When driving after dark on unlit roadways, use high beams whenever possible. There is a difference between seeing the roadway markings, signs, and other vehicles, versus being able to perceive a non‐reflective object in your path. AAA research found that a majority of Americans (64%) do not regularly use their high beams. High beams improve forward illumination by 28% and are much more effective at providing the proper amount of light when traveling at higher speeds.
  • Monitor and adjust driving speeds when traveling on unlit roads at night to allow enough time to detect, react and stop the vehicle in order to avoid striking a pedestrian, animal or object in the roadway.