A HeadLight Door is the term for the door that hangs in front of the headlight on a car, motorcycle or other vehicle. It has two purposes: to protect passengers from direct light and debris when entering, and to provide additional light when exiting. HeadLight Doors were first introduced by BMW in 1958.
The development of HeadLight Doors began shortly after WWII with German engineers wishing to improve visibility on roadways while reducing glare and artifacts within the headlights' beam pattern. Underscoring these efforts, at least one study found a 70% increase in crash rates during wet weather conditions following an initial introduction of headlights into cars.
Although HeadLight Doors were initially a luxury item, they quickly became part of most vehicle designs and were eventually made standard for all internal combustion engine vehicles. HeadLight Doors are now required in most jurisdictions. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is the body that publishes standards for automobiles in North America. In North America, SAE Standard J586e specifies the dimensions and openings of all components that comprise a headlight system; notably, it includes rules governing the design and operation of HeadLight Doors.
The first HeadLight Door was manufactured by TÜV Rheinland and was designated "3D-Bauart", or 3D Type. It was a door placed in front of the headlamp assembly that produced a beam that combined both vertical and horizontal illumination.
A second, more purposeful, HeadLight Door was developed by BMW. This second model consisted of four components: an outer door, an inner door, a hinge assembly and an electrical circuit. The outer door was made of glass that allows light to pass through while reducing glare and debris on the inside. The inner doors were made of metal and did not allow light to pass simultaneously through both at the same time but rather re-directed the light to hit the ground or air around the vehicle.
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