LED Tail lights and Fiber Optics: Functional or Just for Looks?

There is no question that LED tail lights look great. From chrome housings to the blacked out or “smoked” look, LED’s are in! Pair them with a set of headlights and you’ve made a run of the mill family sedan a tricked out tuner. But how well do they work? After all, the primary function of tail lights is to make our vehicles visible and to alert other drivers when we’re stopping and turning.

We’ve all grown used to a seemingly endless procession of technological advances that affect our daily lives, but the technology of automotive lighting didn’t change much during most of the last century. It wasn’t until the early 1970’s when it was discovered that the LED, or Light Emitting Diode, could provide enough brightness for visibility. The first LED tail lights were introduced on the 2000 Cadillac Deville. Although the public was attracted to the sleek styling and beauty of the model and its new tail lights, Cadillac chose to emphasize the tail lights’ improved functionality.

LEDs are particularly suited to tail lights and brake lights because they have a faster rise time than incandescent bulbs. LEDs reach full illumination 0.2 seconds faster than standard incandescent bulbs. The difference in rise time can be seen on vehicles that have LED third brake lights and regular incandescent bulbs in the tail lights. However, this split second may not mean much until it’s put in perspective: At 60 mph, that 0.2 seconds gives the driver behind you an extra 21 ft. of stopping distance, which may be all that’s needed to prevent an accident. Another technological advancement in automotive lighting is fiber optics. Although there isn’t a lot of research and information on their safety aspect, these lights give a flashier and fancier look to ordinary LED tail lights. The principles behind fiber optic technology were first demonstrated in the mid-19th century. Today, fiber optic technology is making its way into our cars slowly but making a big splash. Manufacturers like Audi and BMW, who have had a major influence on aftermarket lighting, are already using them in production models. Hopefully we will have more information to share with you crazy car guys and gals out there. In the meantime get a set of LED/Fiber Optic lights from the best source in aftermarket accessories, CARiD.com!


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