Daytime running lights, also known as DRLs, are the new standard of lights that must be fitted on every new car within Europe. While not every car, especially those older than 2011, has or needs them, you are bound to see them on the road.
But what are DRLs? What makes them important enough to have a law passed making them the standard? That’s what we’ll be covering today.
What Are Daytime Running Lights?
Daytime running lights are lights that are made to help make your car more visible during the day when it is sunny outside. They come on when you usually start your car and turn off with your car as well.
They are sometimes, but not always, separate lights from the side lights on your vehicle. If they are combined, however, the DRLs will become dimmer while the headlights are on. They also turn off entirely while your indicators are flashing so your indicator lights are visible.
The LEDs of the lights shine white in the front and red in the back of the vehicle. These colors, as well as their brightness, help make your car more visible to others on the road. This may sound like an issue, especially if you’ve ever driven in front of someone who had their brights on and the glare reflected in your review mirror. Which leads to the next question:
What are Good About Daytime Running Lights?
DRLs have actually been proven to reduce head-on collisions, deaths, and serious injuries from car crashes. A 1997 Canadian study, as well as a 2000 American study, have shown that there is at least a 5% reduction rate in the number of serious accidents that occur when people are driving with DRLs.These LED lights are also good at preventing head-on and front-corner collisions the most because the brighter lights make the car more obvious and eye-catching so you have time to move if need be and see the other vehicle.They’re also safer than driving with low beams on while also having an expanded lifespan in comparison. Supposedly, they last over 15,000 hours more than the low beam lights do. And with all the technology that needs illumination inside the car, it can be hard to tell at times if the headlights are on or not. With the DRLs, this is not a problem.An additional bonus is that they use a fraction of the electricity a typical headlight uses within a day. The dedicated daytime running lights are also better than driving with your headlights on because your tail lights and instrument lights won’t be on during the day, using more electricity from your car.This low-cost method is a great way to easily reduce crashes as it will make it easier for drivers to see other cars from a distance before they end up crashing into one another. It is also useful for areas that experience long dusk and dawn hours. This is because the DRLs help provide a visual contrast between vehicles and brightness or glare of the rising or setting the sun.In case you are interested in reading a few more studies done about daytime running lights:There was a Danish study that reported a 7% reduction in crashes with DRL lights within the first 15 months DRLs were used as well as a 37% reduction in any left-turn crashes.A UK study found that you could advance the visibility of your cars with DRLs in dim light, but it won’t reduce the visibility of any motorcyclists.A 1994 Transport Canada study had compared vehicles made in 1990 with DRLs in them to 1989 models without DRLs installed. This study found that the relevant daytime multi-vehicle crashes had reduced by about 11%.
What Are Some Disadvantages of DRLs?
Everything has a good and a bad side to it, and DRLs are no exception to this rule. Here are a few disadvantages of DRLs:The daytime driving lights can increase fuel consumption. While they may not use as much electricity typically as your standard headlight does, they are on all day long, slowly taking more and more of your car’s energy. This increases fuel consumption because the actuator has to do more work.It can decrease the bulb life of your lights as well, which is due to how long they stay on. While the bulbs themselves may last longer than low beam lights, these will be on for many more hours than low beams would typically be.In some cases, the DRLs can make other lights. If your system is not working properly, it can cover up your turn signal lights, brakes lights, and so on.If your DRLs are too bright, it can create a dazzling effect on other drivers. This means that it takes their attention away from the road because they can’t as easily look at it with something bright flashing at them.Finally, they are not bright enough to use in the dark because they are meant to be used in the daylight when you don’t need to see the road in front of you, you simply need to be more visible.
Do All Cars Have Them? Are DRLs Required Now?
While it is more common to see cars with DRLs, not all cars will have them. This is especially true for cars in the United States or those made before 2010. Many cars do have them because it has been proven to be safer to have them installed then. However, no laws have been made that every car must have them; rather, the law impacting Europe says that cars made after 2011 must have them.
Within Europe, as I have already mentioned, they are now required by any new cars that are manufactured. In Canada, they require not only that you have the daytime running lights, but that you fit them to any car that does not currently have them. In the United States, there is still a bit of debate as to whether they are truly effective. This is because they can reduce fuel efficiency even though they have been shown to reduce car crashes by a fairly significant amount.
As you can tell by the Canadian law, you can also fit DRLs into your car if you wanted to have them. You will have to go and hire an auto technician to ensure that they are properly installed, however.
Are They Effective in The US?
As of right now, it is difficult to tell whether or not they will be as effective across America in the same way they are effective in Canada or Scandinavia, for example.
This is because DRLs are best used in areas that have low ambient light levels in the winter or places that have long dusk or dawn periods. While they have, in general, proven to be useful in North America, it is hard to tell if it will be useful everywhere in America.
American DRLs also tend to be brighter than the European DRLs, which increase the visual contrast between the vehicles and the bright background behind them, showing this could still be useful despite the area you may live in. Although, for now, this is only a theory.
Will other motorists on the road be bothered by the glare?
So far, in many countries, glare from DRLs has not been an issue. But in America, they can sometimes be too bright.
As mentioned just in the section above, the American DRLs are brighter than those available in other countries. This can cause them to be far too bright, even if it does help distinguish the car from the bright surroundings.
The maximum light intensity that was allowed in America had been 7000 candelas. It has been reduced to 1500 candelas as proposed by the NHTSA since then, which is much closer to the European standard of DRLs.
What are some safety concerns I should be aware of? Do you have any tips?
There are a few main things you should keep in mind as you install, buy a car, or own a car that has DRLs.
The first is that the bright lights of the DRLs could blind other drivers. In general, they should be dimmer than your headlights. If you notice that they are brighter than your headlights, see if you can trade them out or have them on a reduced setting.
On larger vehicles, like trucks and other transport vehicles, the DRLs will be placed in a higher position than on other cars. This could potentially lead to the lights shining directly in the eyes of other drivers. Angling them down would be a way to fix this problem, although this is based on how the manufacturer has designed your car.
In geographical areas that experience a lot of bright or bright ambient lighting, this is not the best place to use a car with DRLs. If you don’t live in an area that often experiences these types of conditions, do not panic about getting a car immediately that has DRLs installed.
Overall, DRLs are important depending on your geographical area. They do pretty significantly reduce the rate of serious car crashes, so they are great to have anyway.
The significance and importance of daytime running lights vary from country to country, so check out research done within your own country or even for your own geographic area to see how much they help.
Hopefully, you have now learned much more about DRLs and are prepared to use them or buy a car that has them installed already!