'Chelsea tractors' making headlight glare worse, RAC study finds

More than half of drivers surveyed though headlight glare was getting worse due to SUVs
More than half of drivers surveyed though headlight glare was getting worse due to SUVs Credit:  Moment Open

An increase in 'Chelsea tractors' on Britain’s roads is making the problem of headlight glare worse, the RAC has found.

A survey of drivers by the breakdown service found that more than half (51 percent) blamed the higher beams on SUVs for being blinded on the road.

The findings came as the RAC found that 91 percent of drivers, an estimated 16 million when extrapolated to the wider population, said they had been dazzled by the headlights of an oncoming vehicle.

More than half of the 1,215 drivers surveyed said they were suffering the effects more compared to a year ago.

Government data shows there are around 300 collisions every year where dazzling headlights are a factor.

The majority of drivers also blamed the current generation of brighter headlamps for making glare worse. Credit: Caspar Benson

Rod Dennis, a spokesman for the RAC, said part of the increase could be down to the growing popularity of SUVs on Britain’s roads.

He said: “You get far more SUVs sold these days than estates or hatchbacks from all types of manufacturers, it is a very popular type of car.

“If you don’t drive one of those you are driving a car with a lower ride height the lights (of an SUV) that you see behind you in your rearview mirror will be higher on the road and you may be affected by glare.”   

Peter Rodger, Head of Driving Advice for I Am Roadsmart, added that the problem would need to be tackled by manufacturers.

He said: “I don’t think drivers of SUVs have any more choice than the rest of us with what they do, because it is not about where their lights are angled, it is simply the height they are at .

“The manufacturers could make the shape of the beams so they cut off the top better.  It’s to do with vehicle design.”

Other factors cited by drivers for the rise were modern car lights being too bright, with nine in ten saying they were too dazzling and 70 percent that the current generation were so bright they represented a risk to drivers.

More than half said the xenon lights, which give off a bluer glow, and the more modern LED lamps were to blame.

The RAC said another contributing factor was drivers not realising their lights had become misaligned through general use. A Freedom of Information request by the motoring service found this was the reason given for why almost 1.6 million vehicles failed their MOT in 2016.