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Audi Can’t Put its Space-Age Headlights in American Cars Because of Old Law

It sounds like a story straight out of one of those, “can you believe this is actually a law” types of articles? Audi, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, has a new headlight design in its new A8 sedan. It can illuminate around corners, automatically dim when there’s a car in the opposing lane, brighten on extra dark roads, and more. Using a system of computers and cameras, what the manufacturer calls the matrix-beam system can adjust for higher levels of safety, according to the company.

Seems like a great idea. Who would say no to a system that can keep part of the high beams on while turning other parts off depending on how high the opposing vehicle sits off the ground?

The problem is that you won’t see it in America any time soon. Why? Because in 1968, there was a law passed that required headlights have two settings: low and high. That’s all.

If you’re thinking that such a regulation sounds silly, you’re right. What’s even more silly is the response that Audi received when it asked about changing the rule. National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland said that he would hear out the requests. Joan Claybrook, a former NHTSA administrator, said, “A lighting system that dims, I’m not sure that’s going to be No. 1 on their list.”

Looks like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and General Motors  will have to move forward with plans to lobby for a technology that is safer for all drivers on the road.

To be fair, this won’t be wide-spread technology any time soon. It’s a $3,000 option on the Audi A8 which starts at $72,000 and goes up to $134,500. Doesn’t sound like a feature that will be in the next low cost Ford in the near future.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Tim Parker had no position in any of the companies mentioned.

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