Daytime running lights ‘causing confusion’

08.51 | 4 December 2018 | | 10 comments

Daytime running lights, which have been a requirement on all new cars and small vans produced in the EU since 2011, may be causing unintended confusion among drivers, according to the RAC.

Designed to make cars more visible to other road users in daylight conditions, daytime running lights (DRL) 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 to enable other road users to see the vehicle.

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, while others do not.

This, according to the RAC, is ‘causing confusion and frustration’ for road users in dull driving conditions.

62% of respondents to a new RAC survey claimed to see other cars and vans driving in dull overcast conditions with lights on at the front, but no rear lights.

Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, 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.

“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.”



Comment on this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Report a reader comment

Order by Latest first | Oldest first | Highest rated | Lowest rated

    Just tried my best to alert a driver at night time to put their lights on.

    This is the 3rd or 4th time the car involved has Daytime Running Lights .

    No Rear lights is ridiculous. Make the Car manufacturers install light sensors

    Tudor Davies, Warrington
    Agree (9) | Disagree (0)

    Vincent – such a feature was available on some american cars as long ago as 1960 and each manufacturer had a different name for it. One I remember was called ‘twilight sentinel’.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    We have day time running lights, lights to help us see around corners… what we really could do with is a car that can automatically switch on the lights (or at least alert the driver) when it gets dark. With technology as advanced as it is, surely this could be achieved? This would then reduce the number of avoidable RTC’s that happen daily.

    Vincent Miner, Bristol
    Agree (5) | Disagree (3)

    This has been a significant problem for a considerable time, when a driver approaches their vehicle fitted with DRL they operate the remote lock and see the lights come on at the front of the vehicle, this makes them think that their lights are ‘on’ when in fact only the front of the vehicle has illumination.
    Ant self respecting car sales dealership should point this out,but we know this and other vital familiarisation information in seldom given!
    I know most professional driver trainers are attempting to inform other drivers of this and to point out the risks.
    It would be morbidly interesting to see how an insurance claim would fare and what liability there would be in a rear end shunt in poor light conditions where only the from of the vehicle is illuminated!?

    Les Hammond, HUNTINGDON
    Agree (10) | Disagree (0)

    I don’t see the need to have rear lights on as well. As useless as ordinary lights would be in fog by the time you can see them. Brakes lights will tell you when the vehicle in front is stopping. Front DRLs are to warn of approaching vehicles and well worth having. If it’s so dull, then yes, put on your rear lights. I think lots of drivers hope to be able to ‘get home’ before they need to put their lights on in case they run down their battery!

    Lynda, Lewes
    Agree (3) | Disagree (22)

    I find it difficult to understand that this problem was not identified and raised at inception of the idea.

    Considering drivers spend the majority of time looking forward they will consider their lights to be on at both ends if they see illumination at the front.

    Agree (18) | Disagree (2)

    Day time running lights when it’s daytime, automatic light sensitive lights that don’t come on in rain and fog, and more people driving around without lights when needed than ever before when the driver was 100% responsible for activating them what problems are we trying to solve, and is this the road we’re heading down with autonomous technology?

    Ben Graham, Reading
    Agree (12) | Disagree (3)

    We don’t need more lights. We need less. Daylight Running Lights are totally unnecessary. Remember this: eyes are not designed to look at light but to see with light. I’ve written to ROSPA about them. They have admitted that they are too bright to be used at night because they cause dangerous glare. But fine for daytime use. That is insanity. If you can’t see a car coming towards you during the day in good light, get off the road. What next? Light up the edges of the roads? Light up every tree? Every lamppost? Every pedestrian? Their glare is so fierce that they have to turn off so that you can see the car’s indicator lights.

    Lenses can be replaced. Retinas can’t. Smoking used to be considered to have health benefits.

    They’re an ugly styling feature for car manufactures who have to come up with new ideas to sell their computer designed lumps of bulky metal.

    Sherrie Palmer, Woodley Reading
    Agree (18) | Disagree (11)

    I remember having an interesting encounter with a car fitted with DRLs at night time; interesting being that the only thing that was visible from a few paces away was the retroreflective numberplate, and that was dirty at best.

    As LED daytime running lights are so bright, they should be matched with at the very least a dim glow for the rear, just in case people fail to realise that they have not turned on their lights.

    David Weston, Corby
    Agree (14) | Disagree (3)

    I wrote to the RAC some time ago about this problem. I suppose that now many newer vehicls are running without rear lights at times when it’s dangerous not to show rear lights that its becoming a problem.

    The other problem according to my local garage is that more and more modern cars with high intensity lights are failing their MOT. This is apparently due to having brighter lights and higher beams, they are therefore causing more danger to oncoming vehicles.

    It looks like things are going from bad to worse.

    Agree (16) | Disagree (2)

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.