Lobbying group Lightmare is urging transport minister Patrick McLoughlin to ‘act now’ after stating its belief that ‘blinding’ Daytime Running Lights (DRL) are to blame for ‘soaring crash rates’.
Lightmare points to DfT casualty stats for 2014 and argues that ‘the steady year-on-year decline in casualties has been halted and is now increasing in proportion to the use of blinding light’.
In an open letter to Mr McLoughlin, Lightmare’s Roy Milnes refers to “expert medical opinion proving that blinding lights are the cause”.
Lightmare argues that the rise in road casualties in the UK since 2010 can be directly linked to an EU mandate from February 2011 stating that all cars should have DRLs.
It says that after the 2011 mandate, many vehicle manufacturers started introducing BiXenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights which it claims ‘can cause temporary blindness’, and as a result accidents have increased because of a ‘reduced perception of hazards caused by light distraction’.
While acknowledging they can distract drivers, Lightmare dismisses the notion that in-car gadgets are to blame for the rise in collisions, stating that they ‘did not suddenly appear in 2010’.
Lightmare has been campaigning since 1999 and claims that the current VW emissions scandal is ‘nothing compared to what the automakers have deliberately inflicted upon us with blinding headlights and daytime lights’.
It claims that the EU’s road safety advisors only did laboratory tests and did not consult with ophthalmologists about the detrimental effect of BiXenon HID headlights on the eye.
It suggests the EU initially proposed an intensity of 400 candelas (cd) for DRL but at the ‘behest of automakers’ they finally mandated blinding 1200cd DRL and 2500cd headlights.
Lightmare accepts that 1200cd DRL may be needed in pure sunlight but says at all other times they ‘blind you’, suggesting it is a ‘gimmick’ to give automakers something to market as ‘safety sells’.