How often do we use our high beams? Many of us barely use them, in fact whenever I turn on my high beams in areas where there is no oncoming traffic and no cars in front of me, I’ve gotten remarks from passengers that using the high beam is unethical. This seems to be the opinion of quite a few motorists, which surprises me.
Apparently according to auto parts supplier Gentex Corporation, automakers and other parties in the auto industry are actually trying to encourage higher use of a car’s high beams. Studies have shown that the very low usage of a car’s high beams are due to a various reasons including forgetfulness, complacency and the fear of not being able to react to oncoming traffic and turning them off fast enough, resulting in other motorists getting dazzled or annoyed.
Gentex says even at speeds of up to 56km/h, a car’s low beams will not allow you to see far enough head to detect and react to a potential hazard. This is the whole point of high beams but in situations where high beams should by right be used, studies have found that high beams were only used less than 25% of the time.
Gentex’s solution to this is their SmartBeam system, which BMW has put in its cars and called High-Beam Assist. The High-Beam Assist system uses a tiny camera-on-a-chip combined with computer algorithms to automatically determine when to turn on and off the vehicle’s high beams depending on traffic conditions.
The camera is located on the interior’s rear view mirror and faces forward. When the system detects that it is dark and no other vehicles are present, the high beams are automatically turned on. When traffic in front is detected, they are automatically turned off. A manual override for the driver is also provided.
The BMW High-Beam Assist system is available in the BMW 5, 6, 7, and X6 models. It is also available in Malaysia on various models including the BMW 523i SE.