Daytime running lights ‘causing confusion’

Monday, December 10, 2018 - 10:11
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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.”


  1. I think this is to do with more cars having automatic head lights, on mine i have to turn them on manually in poor rainy / foggy conditions and there is not always a light on the dash to tell you weather your lights are on but your display is lit up.

  2. I have also noticed this, particularly on motorways where increased conspicuity in dull and overcast conditions is even more important due to the higher speeds.
    I have flashed several motorists whose vehicle is unlit at the rear and who obviously are not aware of the situation. As I pass them they have their driving lights on but nothing else. The DfT need to launch a campaign to stress that driving lights do not illuminate the rear of the vehicle and that sidelights and possibly headlights are still strongly recommended in dull, overcast and light rain conditions.
    Why do some manufacturers include rear lights but some do not? There should be a standardised approach for driving lights.

  3. I think the problem is more to do with the instrument panel lighting up regardless of whether the DLR or headlights are on. I got caught out with this a couple of times on my last car.

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