They’ve been commonplace in Sweden for years, and Volvo owners will notice nothing new. But the rest of us might be aware that all new cars in the UK have LED daytime running lights (DRLs) on during the day.
What are they for?
DRLs are bright, low-powered lights which switch on automatically and operate all the time that a car is running. They are designed to make it easier for pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists to see your car.
They are typically integrated into the headlight clusters of a car- but as they are brighter than standard dipped beam headlights, they are usually kept separate. They need to be bright enough to be seen in daylight, which makes them too strong to be used at night when they would cause dazzle.
They go off automatically when you switch your headlights on.
DRLs are now commonplace on British roads, but it’s not just recommended – it’s the law.
From February 2011 all new passenger vehicles and light goods vehicles have had to be fitted with DRLs. HGVs followed in August 2012.
Research by the European Commission and the Department for Transport found that DRLs could help reduce road fatalities and serious injuries.
The Department for Transport says: “Research has shown that DRLs are likely to reduce multiple vehicle daytime accidents and fatalities by up to 6% once all vehicles are equipped.”
Before DRLs, some European countries had laws requiring the daytime use of headlights all year round, including Sweden since 1977 and Iceland since 1980.
I drive an older model, do I need them?
There’s no requirement to retrofit DRLs. EU regulation applies to new cars only, but if you wish to do add them to your vehicle you can buy a DRL kit, or take your car to a trusted mechanic. Remember they should be installed so that they come on when the engine does, and go off when headlights come on.
Daytime running lights that operate automatically are a legal requirement, but headlights should always be used in reduced visibility or low light conditions.