RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Headlights — they are arguably the most important crash protection device on your automobile at night — yet some leave you in the dark.

That’s why automakers are slowly introducing new technology to address the issue, but as a CBS 17 investigation discovered, brighter is not always better.

In the last seven years, we’ve seen more cars on the road with brighter headlights, but those brighter lights can actually be a detriment to drivers if they are misaligned or in vehicles that are higher off the ground.

That will cause them to focus more on your eyes than on the road.

There are different types of headlights.

One is a projector lens, used to throw a focused beam on to the road.

Another is a reflector headlight. That’s old tried and true technology where a light bulb sits in front of a mirrored surface.

Projector headlights generally use halogen bulbs, which are brighter than incandescent bulbs.

They are now being replaced with new tech — LEDs (light emitting diodes) and drivers can tell the difference.

“There are certain headlights that seem to be brighter and it almost seems like the brights are on— but it’s actually low beam,” said driver Jimmy Azarelo.

Some drivers are having their old-style projector headlights retrofitted with LEDs.

CBS 17 found the driver of a 6-year-old Nissan who wanted that done.

He hired headlight restorer Alex Brown of A&G Headlight restoration to do the job.

Before Brown could make the switch to LEDs he had to remove six years of oxidation on the plastic headlight cover which had fogged and reduced the effectiveness of the light emanating from the lamp.

“If your lights are oxidized and lens is obscured, the light can’t penetrate no matter what bulb tech you have,” said Brown. “You will never see well.”

Seeing well at night is crucial in reducing crashes, just ask the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Good rated headlights per mile driven are involved in 19 percent fewer crashes than poor headlights,” said Matt Brumbelow, a senior research engineer at the IIHS.

For the past seven years, the IIHS has been testing headlights — evaluating different bulbs and designs that not only light the road, but don’t create glare that blinds drivers.

David Aylor is the vice president of Active Safety Testing at the IIHS. He explained what causes glare from headlights.

“Most of the time it’s when they are poorly aimed,” he said.

“The beam pattern and how you place the LED in its lens is extremely important,” said Brown. “It has to be centered and level, otherwise it will point every which way.”

Federal standards set how bright a headlight can be — but don’t evaluate where they are aimed once they are mounted on a vehicle.

“There are vehicles of different heights, SUVs, trucks and pickups,” said Aylor. “On top of that, how the manufacturer designs the headlights to be aimed may not end up that way once it’s installed on the vehicle.”

Tests like those conducted by the Insurance Institute look for those problems, as well as, to see how effective various headlight combinations may be because federal standards are pretty much out of date.

“Our headlight regulation goes back to the ’60s when there was a very different technology,” said Brumbelow.

Halogen bulbs which came out in the early ’80s are being replaced by long-life LED’s, which can be used in fixtures that can swivel headlights when the front wheel turns to better illuminate corners.

LED headlights are also being arrayed in unique combinations and designs to give drivers more lighted roadway distance at night.

Even if you have your old headlight retrofitted with new technology, you still might have to worry about blinding other drivers with your high beams.

Driver Lindsay Grim suggested “Maybe having some sort of control on it, like an automation control like when you’re in a dark area they are brighter and get lighter when other cars are around.”

That’s where adaptive headlights come in.

“It uses the same forward-looking cameras that auto-braking systems use and it detects vehicles around you,” said Aylor. “If it senses a vehicle in front of you or the opposing lane, it automatically switches between low and high beams.”

Another option to reducing glare is changing the headlight mounting locations.

“We’re seeing some manufacturers put the headlight lower on the front end of the car to avoid glaring other drivers,” said Aylor.

The recently passed Infrastructure bills will allow automakers to now include something called “adaptive driving beams.”

They literally redirect headlights adapting them to rain, or snow, or tilt them based on road conditions.

Those systems are already in use in Asia and Europe on cars sold there.