Daytime running lights causing confusion for drivers

New study reveals daytime running lights, required on all new cars since 2011, may be causing confusion for drivers


Drivers across the UK could be causing confusion for other motorists by relying on daytime running lights (DRLs) for illumination in low visibility conditions, new research has found.

A study by the RAC of more than 2,000 drivers found that 62% claimed to have seen other vehicles with lights on at the front in dull and overcast weather conditions but not at the rear.

Another 15% say they had not noticed this, while 2% were unsure.

EU law has required all new cars and small vans sold in the country to be fitted with DRLs at the front of the vehicle since 2011 in an effort to improve road safety, but they are intended to complement dipped headlights rather than replace — and are dimmer as a result.

It’s also not a legal requirement for DRLs to be fitted at the rear of a car, although some manufacturers choose to fit them.

Most manufacturers now use LED lights for their daytime running lights, as LEDs have very low energy consumption and can easily be formed into various different shapes to suit the whims of car designers.

When asked if they knew the car they drove most frequently had DRLs fitted, 47% said their car did not, 29% said they only had them up-front while 14% claimed to have them both front and back. Further still, 8% said they knew their car had them at the front of their vehicle — but were unsure about the rear.

Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesperson, 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.”

Stuart Masson
Stuart Masson
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Executivecondominium, and . Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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