The risk for a fatal traffic accident is 4 - 5 times higher at night compared to the day. Since 1998, night vision systems can help drivers to better recognize dangers at night. For active night vision systems, solid state sources for infrared headlights promise the technically best solution as they can be operated with wavelengths close to the maximum possible camera sensitivity. Both lasers and IRED arrays can be used. Whereas the laser is technically superior, IREDs offer a more economical system.© (2005) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.