20-Watt Increase in Head Light Power, Would Decrease Danger of Night Driving, Expert Says

General Electric Engineer Holds Better Illumination Would Lessen Death Toll

Characterizing the mounting toll of traffic fatalities as "largely an after dark increment," Val J. Roper, engineer in charge of automotive lighting of the General Electric Company, advocated an increase from 30 to 50 watts in the brilliance of headlight, in an address at the Burean for Street Traffic Research yesterday.

"Our study reveals the inadequacy of present head-lighting for drivers observing moderate and legal speeds," he said. "It is clear that under existing headlamp regulations they cannot always see safely." Adjustment of the regulations to permit higher candle power would contribute toward the, reduction of traffic accidents at night, Roper stated.

One-Way Roads Impractical

Oneway roads are the ideal solution to the night-time traffic problem but Roper doubted that they were practically possible during the present generation.

Polarized headlamps were also discussed in the search for methods to make night driving safer but they were declared to hurt as much as they helped by reducing the brightness of road and obstacles.


Recently tests here proved that the average driver can see an obstacle only about half as far away when he does not expect it as when he does expect it, according to Roper. Light-colored objects were also discovered to be twice as visible as dark-colored once.

A new feature of the tests was that they were conducted while the driver was actually driving, unaware that he was being tested.

"Factors of safety are incorporated in the design of all other parts of the car," Roper declared. They are as much needed in the head-lighting on which life and limb are staked."