Publication Date

Summer 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Human Factors/Ergonomics


Sean Laraway


age, automotive, driving, glare, headlight, HID

Subject Areas

Automotive engineering; Engineering


Currently no driver-aid system effectively addresses glare-reduction for oncoming headlights. Glare at night has the ability to decrease our visual acuity and cause discomfort or pain. This decreased visual ability constitutes an increased risk for driver error and a potential roadway safety hazard. The severity of these detrimental effects has previously been shown to increase with driver age and is thought to be further exacerbated by the increased brightness of High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights.

In the current study, the effects of headlight glare from HID and halogen lights on driver performance was examined in a custom driving simulator. A novel polarized headlight glare-blocking system was also examined for its effectiveness in reducing headlight glare. Decreased visual field perception occurred across all age groups with the use of oncoming HID headlights compared to halogen headlights. In addition, older drivers' performance on the visual awareness task was significantly decreased as compared to their younger counterparts. The performance-restoring effects of the headlight-blocking system were especially beneficial to older adults exposed to HID headlights, restoring visual field perceptual abilities to nearly that of the younger age group. As even brighter LED-based headlights reach the automotive market in the midst of an expanding older driver population, it is urged that automotive manufacturers consider glare-mitigation strategies when designing current headlight systems.