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Daytime Running Lights – Can Leaving Your Car Lights on Improve Road Safety?

The European Union is currently planning to make the use of Daytime running car lights compulsory on all new vehicles by 2011. The driving force behind this new ruling are studies that have shown daytime running car lights reduce day light crashes by up to 12% for cars and 10% for motorbikes. However, it is true to say that not all safety or environmental groups are happy with this proposed new ruling, so what are the pros and cons of keeping your car lights on in the daytime and can it benefit you.

Rules on daytime running car lights first appeared in 1977 when Sweden became the first country to adopt this new safety feature. Due to the low levels of ambient light experienced during the day, other Scandanvian countries soon followed suit and now daytime running car lights are compulsory in Finland, Norway and Iceland.

Failure to see the other vehicle is cited in 50% of day time road traffic accidents, with this figure rising to up to 80% for collisions that occur at road junctions. One of the reasons why daytime running car lights are believed to have the ability to reduce road accidents, is that a vehicle with its lights on appears closer than it actually is. Resulting in drivers being less likely to take a risk when pulling out of a turning or attempting to overtake in the face of oncoming traffic.

Critics of compulsory daytime running car lights say that they put more vulnerable road users at risk and increase fuel use and ultimately the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Most motorcyclist already use their dipped beam headlight during the day to clearly indicate their presence to other drivers, and it is feared that if every vehicle has its lights on this effect may be lost. It is also a concern that pedestrians crossing the road could be masked by the glare of daytime running lights.

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