Daytime running lights will be compulsory in Europe from 2011

The European Commission has ruled that all new cars operating in the EU must have daytime running lights from February 2011.

Daytime running lights make it easier to see vehicles and have been shown to improve road safety.

Daytime running lights are smaller than headlights. They are mounted on the front of the vehicle and switch on automatically when the engine is started. They are often mounted lower than headlights and put out less light.

Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car buyers’ Dog & Lemon Guide, says Australia should adopt a similar measure.

“Virtually all international research has shown that daytime running lights can significantly lower the road toll.

A report by Chris Coxon, the former technical chair of the ANCAP crash test program, concluded:

"There is clear evidence that a policy requiring daytime headlight use would result in a significant reduction in the road toll. Because of the body of reputable research supporting this view, we have reached the conclusion that the New Zealand and Australian governments should institute a daytime headlight use policy without delay. A further incentive to this policy is that it would come at virtually no cost to the government and a minor cost to the motorist."

Coxon also concluded that there would be little or no increase in fuel consumption as a result of daytime headlights.

Matthew-Wilson also pointed to World Health Organisation statistics showing that vehicles using daytime running lights have a crash rate 10-15% lower than those that do not.

Matthew-Wilson added:

“Many accidents occur because the vehicle was not seen. In the rain, mist or low light conditions, lights help identify the presence of moving cars. They also tell you if the car ahead is coming towards you or moving away from you – something that is not always obvious, especially if the car is in your lane.”

“You can’t control the other idiots on the road, but you can help protect yourself by being more visible to other motorists.”

“Lots of fine-sounding road safety strategies simply don’t work in the real world. Well, here’s one that does and costs you nothing. I’m wondering how long it will take the road safety bureaucrats to notice.”