EU makes compulsory low-beam daytime headlights in UK, from today

In September 2008, the European Commission adopted, through the back door, via the “comitology procedure”, a directive 2008/89/EC, amending Council directive 76/756/EEC, relating to the installation of lighting and light-signalling devices on motor vehicles and their trailers. There have even been many concerns in Britain that constantly running daytime lamps will produce the opposite effect – of presenting a significant harm in road safety.

In order to improve road safety, the European Commission will introduce “Daytime Running Light” from 2011 on all types of motor vehicles. These lights are automatically switched on when the engine starts and when it gets dark; the drivers manually turn on the headlights when the lights go off. Hence, the daytime lights would not switch off automatically as drivers will have to switch on the headlight manually for the daylights to go out.

Under the Commission’s directive, from today (7 February), all new types of passenger cars and small delivery vans will have to be equipped with DRL; and from August 2012, trucks and buses will also be equipped with DRL.

Member States are required to refuse any EC type approval or national approval for new types of vehicles which do not comply with the directive requirements. Moreover, Member States are required to adopt and publish by October 2009 legislative measures necessary to comply with this directive.

According to the Commission, the energy consumption of the DRL is around “25-30 % of the energy consumption of the normal driving light” – therefore, accordingly, they are deemed to be more environmentally friendly. However there are concerns that day lights will increase fuel consumption, and, consequently, carbon emissions, by 1.5%.

Under the Commission’s proposal, EU carmakers will be required to introduce in new car models special daylights. This measure implies that further burdens will be placed on UK manufactures and will add nothing to road safety. The Commission believes that the Daytime Running Light will improve road safety as it will be easier to all road users to earlier and better detect vehicles equipped with DRL.

However, according to a spokesperson of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and traders “There is a small risk that some drivers will forget to switch on their headlights at night. We think there could also be confusion among road users between these lights and front fog lamps.”

There are concerns that the daylights would reduce the visibility of motorcyclists and that they can divert a driver's attention away from unlit objects. This measure is aiming at increasing road safety but it might increase risks for road users and environment.

According to Eurobusiness, the mandatory requirement of Daytime Running Light is expected to raise car prices by around €150 and also cause a rise in petrol consumption.

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