Well-lit city streets may lead many drivers to believe that their headlights are adequate to handle night-driving situations. Get a few miles outside of the city, however, and you might find your headlights are not quite as beneficial as you would like. Top of the line LED headlights might allow you to drive as much as 55 miles per hour on an unlit highway if they are on high-beam. Most headlights are unsafe at even slower speeds.
According to the AAA, Americans drive approximately 40 percent of their miles on rural roads, many of which are unlit. Normal halogen headlights set to low-beam would allow a driver to travel 39 MPH safely, according to AAA testing. Rural highways tend to have speed limits set at 55 MPH. If a pedestrian, animal, stopped vehicle or other obstacle is on the road and a driver with normal headlights is going the speed limit, that driver will not have time to stop the vehicle to avoid a collision.
The problem of inadequate headlights is made worse by clouding that occurs as the headlight ages. After roughly five years, the plastic coating of the headlight lenses clouds. This reduces the amount of light that reaches the road, while also increasing the glare seen by other drivers. Old headlight lenses should be restored to combat clouding. Headlight lenses should also be cleaned regularly to maximize the amount of light reaching the road.
Source: Technology Tell, “U.S. headlights short on safety, AAA says,” by Lyndon Johnson, 26 May 2015