Congressman Neri Javier Colmenares has found a new ally in his crusade against HID (high intensity discharge) headlamps. He has enlisted the help of his Bayan Muna party mate Carlos Isagani Zarate in filing a new House Bill 2616 on September 3, 2013, "An Act Prohibiting the Use of High Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlamps."

Two lawmakers filed the bill recently to prohibit the use and installation of bright white headlights or headlamps in motor vehicles "to reduce the cases of road accidents and enhance road safety and convenience. 

As with his previous previous statement, Colmenares says the use of bright white headlights classified as HID or Xenon headlamps causes inconvenience to the drivers or passengers of other vehicles due to the excessive glare coming from these headlamps.

"Many countries have prohibited or regulated the use of these headlamps precisely in response to the threat to road safety posed by its use," Colmenares said.

Colmenares cited 2008 statistics of the Department of Health (DOH), which listed road accident as the fourth leading cause of death in the country. However the good Congressman has not provided evidence that headlights were the exact cause of accidents. We also find it amusing that the Congressman is still citing 2008 statistics, which he also cited in his 2011 filing. We further went on to check on the claims of the lawmaker and found that the DOH statistics merely states 'ACCIDENTS' as the cause and not specifically 'ROAD ACCIDENTS.' The ranking was also for 2006, and that by 2007-2009, 'ACCIDENTS' as cause of death has actually gone down to fifth. 

No helmets

According to the Quezon City Police Traffic Department, the leading causes for death in road accidents are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and motorcyclists without helmets. The image above shows members of the 'marginalized' Bayan Muna party list on motorcycles without helmets from their Facebook page.

The Congressmen claim that their measure addresses the problem of threat to road safety posed by the use of non-standard headlights, particularly bright and glaring white lights by vehicles that use HID or high intensity discharge headlamps.

"The use of these HID headlamps in vehicles, including refitting of tungsten-halogen headlamps to HID headlamps, is not in consonance with traffic safety standards," Zarate went to re-quote the same statement of Colmenares in 2011, his first attempt to ban HIDs.

They go on further to claim DOH statistics showed that road accidents usually happen at night or in dim environment where there is poor visibility. The Philippines has one of the worst lit roads at night compared to our ASEAN neighbors, and most cities do not use the proper standards when it comes to road signs; also a major cause of road accidents. In these cases, motorists have to rely on their headlights to navigate through dark, and virtually unlit roads.

Under the bill, any person or entity selling motor vehicles caught selling the prohibited item shall be fined P100,000 for every sale of a vehicle fitted with the headlamp. The registered car owner and the person driving a motor vehicle installed with or using the prohibited HID headlamp shall each be fined with PHP10,000. 

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) has been tasked as the main implementing agency, while the bill has been referred to the House committee on transportation.

HID or xenon lighting has been standard lighting for premium vehicles since the mid-1990s. HIDs have become more popular as standard vehicle lighting because of their increased lighting efficiency compared to standard halogen lighting. Independent studies have proven the increased safety provided by good HID headlamps that comform to safety standards compared to halogen headlamps allowing drivers equipped with the former to react faster and more accurately to road obstacles.

Damaged headlight reflector

The popularity of HID or xenon lighting has led to the influx of aftermarket lighting 'upgrades' wherein some of products do not conform to the proper manufacturing standards that meet safety requirements. An HID bulb produces considerable short-wave ultraviolet (UV) light, requiring a UV-absorbing hard glass shield around the bulb's arc tube to prevent degradation of UV-sensitive components and materials in headlamps, like polycarbonate lenses and reflector coating. Some 'cheap' China-made HID 'upgrades' are not fitted with the protective glass and can cause permanent damage to headlamps like the one pictured above.