NHTSA approves adaptive headlights, paving the way for Tesla to activate the feature in the United States with software update

New Model 3 headlight

It took a long time, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has finally approved the use of adaptive headlights in the United States.

The reason for this delay was an old rule in federal motor vehicle safety standards. The law from 1967 forbids both high-beam and low-beam lights from functioning simultaneously.

However, the entire point of adaptive headlights is to have a simultaneous function, and thus they were banned from the United States.

Adaptive lights are not traditional high-beam lights but rather a complex LED system controlled by a computer onboard the car. Adaptive lights can illuminate the road in front and aim the light away from the oncoming traffic.

Here is how BMW implemented the technology in their headlights.

The NHTSA rule change came after Toyota petitioned the administration back in 2013 to change the rule.

Adaptive headlights are commonplace in Europe and work quite well for nighttime driving.

The rule change is a win for the overall industry, but it will not appear overnight in the US market. However, you can expect the next generation of vehicles in the US market to include technology.

Existing Tesla vehicles with the latest matrix LED headlights will likely also see the feature activated through a free over-the-air (OTA) software update, which we expect could happen as soon as next month.

New Tesla Model 3 headlight certifications hint at upcoming adaptive ability

About Scott Nordlund 939 Articles
Originally from the West Coast, Scott is an avid writer & EV enthusiast now living in Ottawa. He holds a MA in Political Science and once played professional football in the German Football League. Email scott@driveteslacanada.ca