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Research Finds Another Glaring Example of Driver Distraction.

Forget about using cell phones, eating fast food, applying makeup or watching in-vehicle entertainment systems. When it comes to driver distraction, the leading culprit just may be old-fashioned rearview mirror glare.
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As part of its ongoing market research efforts, Gentex Corporation recently surveyed some 6,000 new car buyers and found that nearly 80 percent agreed that glare from their interior rearview mirror bothers them when driving at night. Similarly, 75 percent agreed that glare from their exterior mirrors is bothersome, with nearly 70 percent classifying the glare as "blinding."

"For a variety of reasons, there's more glare on the road today than ever before," said Garth Deur, executive vice president for Gentex, which supplies the worldwide automotive industry with automatic-dimming rearview mirrors. "The higher-mounted headlights of trucks and SUVs, the new high-intensity discharge lamps with the bluish hue, an aging population more susceptible to glare -- for these and a variety of other reasons, the problem of roadway glare is reaching epidemic proportions."

Deur's assertions are backed by hundreds of glare-related complaints by drivers to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which regulates traffic safety issues. Glare-related complaints have become so prevalent that last year, NHTSA ranked glare from headlamps among its highest- priority rulemaking action areas for the near term.

But rearview mirror glare isn't the only issue that has Deur concerned.

"What's really frightening are the poor driving habits we're developing in order to prevent glare from reaching our eyes," continued Deur. "To avoid glare, most of us tilt our head, squint or adjust our body position. However, it's frightening to say that our research shows that 58 percent of those surveyed block glare with their hand, 20 percent admit to having worn sunglasses at night, and more than 50 percent actually report tilting their exterior mirrors outward or downward to prevent glare from reaching their eyes.

"By now, most people know that driving while using a cell phone can be risky, but I'm far more alarmed to learn that a large number of us aren't even using our exterior rearview mirrors when driving at night."

Gentex Corporation, which commissioned the research, has studied glare and ways to eliminate it for over 25 years. Gentex supplies the worldwide auto industry with interior and exterior auto-dimming mirrors, which detect rearview mirror glare and dim automatically to preserve driver vision and make nighttime driving safer.

Despite shipping over 10 million auto-dimming mirrors to automakers last year, the Company estimates that just 15 percent of the light vehicles built worldwide have interior auto-dimming mirrors, and just six percent are built with exterior auto-dimming mirrors.

Deur said, "Cell phones and in-vehicle entertainment systems -- these high-profile driving distractions get most of the attention. But, relatively speaking, most of us do not watch DVDs while driving, yet all of us are confronted by glare every time we drive at night."

The study was conducted for Gentex Corporation by J.D. Power and Associates, a world-leading global marketing information services firm.

Gentex Corporation is an international company that provides high-quality products to the worldwide automotive industry and North American fire protection market.

The Company develops, manufactures and markets interior and exterior automatic-dimming automotive rearview mirrors that utilize proprietary electrochromic technology to dim in proportion to the amount of headlight glare from trailing vehicle headlamps. More than 95 percent of the Company's revenue is derived from the sale of those products to the world automotive industry.

Gentex was the first company in the world to successfully develop and produce a commercial automatic-dimming rearview mirror. After more than 15 years of supplying these products in the highly competitive global automotive industry, the Company remains the leading supplier of these mirrors. Gentex OEM customers include Acura, Audi, Bentley, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Isuzu, Kia Motors, Land Rover, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Renault Samsung, MG Rover, Rolls Royce, SsangYong Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo Car Corporation.

Founded in 1974, Gentex has its manufacturing facilities in Zeeland, Michigan, and automotive sales and engineering offices in Detroit, Michigan; Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, France and Korea. The Company is recognized for its quality products; for its proprietary manufacturing skills and equipment and application of world class manufacturing principles; for its commitment to developing and maintaining a highly skilled workforce, and for encouraging employee ownership of the Company's stock.

CONTACT: FINANCIAL MEDIA AND INVESTOR CONTACT: Connie Hamblin, or GENERAL MEDIA CONTACT: Craig Piersma, both of Gentex Corporation, +1-616-772-1800

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Publication:PR Newswire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 29, 2004
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