Daytime Running Lights Now Compulsory On New Cars

You may have noticed that for a while now, certain new cars – like Audis – have featured eyebrow-shaped rows of bright LED lights below their headlamps. These rather odd-looking rows of lights are not a trendy new form of sidelight – they are Daytime Running Lights (DRLs).

Audi A6 daytime running lights (DRL)
Daytime running lights on an Audi A6 (below the headlight bulbs)

As you might guess, DRLs are the brainchild of the EU and are now a legal requirement on all new cars, starting February 2011. Although driving with lights on will seem new to UK drivers, some European countries have had rules requiring drivers to drive with dipped headlights at all times for some years now.

There will not be any requirement for existing cars to be fitted with DRLs or to drive with their headlights on in the UK, but all new cars will be sold with DRLs that will be permanently illuminated whenever the engine is running.

Why DRLs?

The logic behind DRLs is that in certain driving conditions, approaching cars can be hard to see – even in the daytime. DRLs are designed to combat this problem and various studies have shown over the years that they do actually lead to a reduction in accidents and casualties. I know that sceptics will say that if you can’t see a car coming towards you in daylight, you shouldn’t be driving, but it isn’t always that simple and vehicles with lights on are easier to see.

Historically, one of the criticisms of DRLs has been that they increase fuel consumption by increasing the load on the alternator (which generates electricity using engine power) at all times. This is true with conventional car headlights but will probably not apply to DRLs, as most manufacturers are expected to follow Audi’s lead and use LED lighting for their DRLs.

LED lights use much less power than conventional headlight bulbs, meaning that they do not have an adverse effect on fuel consumption. LEDs also last much longer than normal bulbs, meaning that they might well last the whole lifetime of the car. DRLs will not be linked to cars’ tail lights or dashboard lighting – these will remain switched off unless the driver switches the car’s headlights on.

What do you think about DRLs? Is it a useful safety measure or is the EU just introducing needless red tape?

5 thoughts on “Daytime Running Lights Now Compulsory On New Cars

  • October 26, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Yes DLR’s are fitted to new cars. What they do not tell you is it is not compulsory to use them and they are not even included in the MOT.There is also large amount of evidence that they not only increase the accident rate there is a danger to damaging eye site. In fact it is an other EU con.

    • June 1, 2018 at 10:58 pm

      These DRLs are a pain and a hazard! They are far too bright and are annoying! Manufacturers should be forced to reduce their brightness to the level of a filament sidelight.

      Some LED headlights are even more dangerous and are often badly aligned. Three lanes of following traffic with high mounted headlights shining in all three of one’s driving mirrors, not to mention the countless number of headlights approaching on a three lane motorway have introduced an intolerable new hazard to night time driving and are causing accidents by blinding drivers,

      The MOT should be tightened up to ensure LED lights are no brighter than the filament equivalent. Also the cut off distance for dipped headlamps should be subject to test. Failures should be referred to the manufacturer for replacement.

  • January 7, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    We got a 66 plate Ford Grand C Max on 23/12/2016…
    It is not fitted with day time running lights (DLR’s)
    I was under the impression that all new vehicles after
    a certain date had to be fitted with DLR’s.
    Can you tell me if this is so please in order for me to
    know that I’m legal on the roads…
    Regards Peter James

  • November 29, 2017 at 10:17 am

    My Punto has a facility to switch the DRLs off, am I in order to do so, Also if one of DRLs is not working am I still legal driving the car.


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