Being unable to see for a mere two seconds is long enough to travel half an average football pitch!


Dazzling lights – they’re one of the biggest gripes of motorists in the UK, driving around a corner in the dark to be welcomed by an oncoming vehicle in which the driver has forgotten to dip their headlights, leaving you dazzled as a result.

In a new study carried out by Direct Line, it was discovered that 48% of drivers taking part claim to have been left momentarily blinded by thoughtless motorists in the last year alone, despite the fact that many car manufacturers now have automatic dip-beam functions built into their latest models.

To work out how dangerous dazzling lights can be, the insurer’s carried out a roadside experiment and discovered that motorists are left momentarily blinded by oncoming vehicles’ headlights for around two seconds.

It might not sound very long but it’s enough for the sufferer to cover over 60 metres totally unsighted whilst travelling at 70mph.

Being unable to see for a mere two seconds is long enough to travel half an average football pitch!

Bedazzled!! Nearly half of motorists have been blinded by other drivers © Copyright Albert Bridge and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


The dazzle test Direct Line conducted recorded the immediate effect that an oncoming vehicle with it’s headlights on full beam has on a fellow driver when driving in the dark.

The ones taking part in the study found it took two seconds for their visibility to revert back to where they felt they could see clearly up the road but said that black dots and flashes remained and continued to cripple their vision for around another three seconds – which is a long time when you’re in control of a vehicle.

Not being able to see for only two seconds means that drivers travelling at 60mph will cover 53.6 metres before their vision recovers, whilst drivers travelling at 70mph would travel 62.5 metres – more than half an average sized football pitch!

According to the study’s findings, these results have led to numerous near misses for many motorists.

Of those taking part in the study, one fifth (20%) said they’ve had to brake suddenly, whilst 5% (around 1.5 million drivers) have had to take evasive action to prevent crashing because they’d nearly driven off the road due to the impact of oncoming lights affecting their eyesight.

“As the research shows, drivers have to make sudden adjustments to counteract the effects of being dazzled, which could sometimes lead to a dangerous outcome,” said director of car insurance at direct Line Rob Miles.

According to Government statistics, over the past five years, 1,622 road accidents have been caused by motorists being dazzled by oncoming headlights – 350 (or 22%) of these accidents were either serious or fatal.

Nearly half (44%) of those taking part in the survey believe that repeat offenders should be penalised if caught dazzling other road users – one fifth said fines and penalty points should be issued to offenders.

The survey polled 2,003 adults and 37% said they’d been left momentarily blinded by a vehicle’s headlights that had been dipped but were still extremely bright, whilst over a third (35%) also said their vision had been compromised by motorists driving behind them who’ve dazzled them through their rear-view mirror.

Even though nearly half of motorists said they’d been momentarily blinded by another road user, 72% of those surveyed claimed they’d never done the same to another road user, always remembering to dip their lights when oncoming traffic was approaching.

Dazzling lights can be a serious issue for cyclists and pedestrians too, however only 64% said they dip their beams when they see walkers approaching, whilst just 59% lower their lights when a cyclist is coming towards them.


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