Proposed motorcycle law change doesn’t go far enough

A proposed law change that would require motorcyclists to drive with their headlights on at all times doesn’t go far enough, says the car buyers’ Dog & Lemon Guide.

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson says:

“It’s common sense that a motorcyclist with his headlights on is easier to spot than a motorcyclist with his headlights off. Why stop at motorcycles? It’s surely just as obvious that a car with its headlights on is also easier to spot than a car with its headlights off?”

Matthew-Wilson 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.

“The evidence that vehicles are safer with their lights on is overwhelming. The European Commission has ruled that all new cars operating in the EU must have daytime running lights from February 2011.”

“Daytime running lights and headlights used during the day make it easier to see vehicles and have been clearly 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. However, it is also possible to set up headlights to come on automatically on low beam and to go off again when the ignition is switched of. Using headlights during the day has the advantage of saving the cost of installing daytime running lights on older cars.

“The government is in possession of two separate reports, one from Australia and one from New Zealand. After extensive research, both reports supported the compulsory use of daytime running lights or daytime headlights.”

A report by Chris Coxon, the former head of the Australian road safety crash test programme, 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 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.”

“The previous government evaded the issue of daytime running lights. Here is a clear opportunity for the new government to put its money where its mouth is.”