Bright headlights aren't only dangerous for drivers, they're also illegal

( Image: Hawaii News Now )
( Image: Hawaii News Now )

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - They're very bright, a potential danger to other drivers, and illegal.

High Intensity Discharge headlights, or HIDs, have grown popular among many drivers.

The lights are two to three times brighter than halogen headlamps, and are becoming a dangerous distraction for some motorists.

Sharon Chun recently ran up a curb after a driver's high-intensity beams blinded her. "I couldn't see."

Chun said the headlights were so bright she had to cover her eyes and take a hand off the wheel.

Auto parts expert Victar Cheng said the extreme brightness is because HIDs are being installed in headlamp housings that are built for halogen bulbs. So the light goes everywhere.

"The reflectors of the housing is unable to keep all the light focused and below a certain focal point," he said. "All the scatter goes upwards as well."

That scattered light is what blinds you when a vehicle's high-intensity beams are coming toward you or reflecting in your rear view mirror.

Some cars have factory installed HIDs that are legal.

Auto mechanic Hector Sabado said after market HIDs come with a ballast that increases the light's output. They are so bright they can damage the light meters used at safety check stations.

"They're actually illegal so they're not supposed to be on the vehicle," Sabado said.

Drivers skirt the law by temporarily replacing their illegal HIDs with legal lights. They re-install the high-intensity bulbs once they clear the safety check.

"They're actually creating a situation that is going to cause an accident," Chun said.

State law specifies the brightest headlights can be, so drivers with illegal high-intensity beams can be ticketed.

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