Daytime running lights on newer vehicles cause confusion for other road users
Daytime running lights on vehicles, which have been required
to be fitted on all new European Union cars and small vans since early 2011 to
improve road safety, may be causing unintended confusion for other drivers,
according to research carried out by the RAC.
Designed to make cars more visible to other road users in
daylight conditions, daytime running lights automatically switch on when the
engine is running and switch off when the main headlights are turned on. They
are not designed to help drivers see where they are going, but are there to
enable other road users to see the vehicle. That is why they are considerably
dimmer than dipped headlights.
But while all new vehicles have to have daytime running
lights at the front, it is not a requirement to fit them at the rear, yet some
manufacturers choose to do so.
And, it is that issue that appears to be causing confusion
and frustration for road users in dull driving conditions as many drivers don’t
turn on their dipped lights or sidelights, perhaps mistakenly thinking that
because they have daytime running lights on automatically at the front the same
applies to the rear lights, according to the RAC.
The motoring organisation conducted a survey of 2,061
motorists and found that more than six in 10 (62%) claimed to see other cars
and vans driving in dull overcast conditions without any rear lights on, while
they noted these vehicles did have lights on at the front. Fifteen percent of
those surveyed had not noticed that and nearly a quarter (23%) were not sure.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “This is
potentially a very worrying finding as it implies that many motorists are
driving without any rear lights believing that because they have running lights
that switch on automatically at the front, they are also on at the rear.
Alternatively, and arguably just as concerning, these drivers could simply have
decided the light conditions were not bad enough to merit turning on their
dipped lights or sidelights.”
Asked if they knew whether the car they drove most
frequently had daytime running lights nearly half (47%) stated that their
vehicle did not, 29% said theirs had them at the front only, 14% said they had
them at both the front and the rear, and somewhat worryingly, 8% knew they did
at the front but were unsure about the rear.
Mr Williams added: “While daytime running lights are clearly
bringing a very valuable safety benefit to the UK’s roads, it would be good for
every driver to take just a few minutes to make sure they know whether the
vehicles they drive have them or not. And if they do, then check to see if they
have them at the rear as well as the front. That way those that don’t have them
at the back will be far more likely in poor daylight visibility to switch on their
dipped lights to make their vehicle more easily seen from behind.
“We strongly urge
everyone to carry out this check as those few minutes could make an important
road safety difference.”