Experts agree on the safety value of daytime headlights

Recent claims that daytime headlight use will not lower the road toll are completely out of tune with the best available research, says one of the country’s leading road safety experts.

Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car buyers’ Dog & Lemon Guide, says virtually all international research has shown that daytime running lights can significantly lower the road toll.

“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.”

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 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. In all conditions headlights 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 next to nothing. I’m wondering how long it will take the road safety bureaucrats to notice.”