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Automotive headlamps are generally comprised of a housing and a bulb(s). And, many bulbs still rely on
the heating of filaments in order to produce light. When a bulb's filament is heated and producing light, it
is said to be incandescent. An incandescent headlamp bulb filament is very hot and malleable, or
When a vehicle is involved in an accident while its headlamp filaments are incandescent, the filaments
inside the bulb can be deformed. Accident reconstruction experts often refer to this deformation as hot
shock. The presence of hot shock can often support the contention of headlamp use by a driver.
Many manufacturers are now moving toward the installation of high intensity discharge (HID)
headlamps. Accident reconstructionists commonly refer to these headlamps as Xenon headlamps
because they contain, among other things, xenon gas. HID headlamps do not contain filaments, and
can produce more light than traditional tungsten filament bulbs while consuming less energy.
Expert traffic accident reconstruction often requires the close examination of vehicle headlamps to
determine if they were on or off at the time of a crash.
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