Daytime Running Lights no substitute for driver awareness

The European Commission has decided to introduce dedicated Daytime Running Light (DRL) on all new cars and commercial vehicles from the year 2011.

Dedicated DRL are different from existing dipped headlights; they are designed to substantially increase the visibility of vehicles to other road users rather than to light the way ahead.  DRL are automatically switched on when the engine is started, except at night-time when normal dipped-beam head lamps are used instead.

All road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, are claimed to be able to spot a vehicle equipped with DRL, better and earlier.  But representatives of the UK’s 1.5 million motorcyclists warn that DRL is not guaranteed to deliver better safety for riders and other vulnerable road users.

Speaking on behalf of the Motorcycle Action Group, Nich Brown (acting Campaigns Manager) said:

“The fundamental problem faced by riders and other vulnerable road users is drivers’ lack of awareness and attention.  Making vehicles easier to see might appear to be a partial solution, but it is no alternative to drivers actively looking and thinking about what is going on around them.”

“Motorcycles can seem to disappear against a sea of car headlights.  We welcome the decision not to mandate daytime headlight use across Europe, but there is a real danger that when most vehicles are fitted with high-intensity daytime running lights it may be difficult to see vulnerable road users among them.”

Supporting this view, the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations (FEMA), representing motorcyclists in all EU member states, said it does not oppose dedicated DRL lights on cars providing there is a completely different appearance to lights fitted on motorcycles.

From 7 February 2011, all new types of passenger cars and small delivery vans will have to be equipped with DRL. Trucks and buses will follow 18 months later in August 2012.

The way is now clear for world-wide harmonization of new vehicle regulations regarding DRL.  Future regulation may also mandate motorcycles to use DRL.

More information: