The installation of Daytime Running Lights has become the norm for more modern vehicles, where additional illumination would allow other road users to have a heightened awareness of approaching vehicles.
However, this development has not been without its own problems, sometimes caused by the lack of knowledge by the driver, but also on occasion caused by the slowness in having laws adapted to satisfy the technology.
Firstly, we must be aware that Daytime Running Lights (DRL) are not a replacement for headlights. In fact, they are completely different. Many versions of Daytime Running Lights also switch off intermittently when the turning indicators are used so as not to distract from the purpose of those lights. Again, to stress their purpose of DRL, they are to make the vehicle more visible to other road users. Unlike headlights, they are not designed to illuminate the path for the driver. That is what headlights are for.
There have been numerous instances of drivers being seen and stopped whilst their vehicle only has Daytime Running Lights illuminated when headlights are required, such as at night or whilst driving through tunnels. In these circumstances, headlights must be switched on.
More recently, motorcycles have also seen Daytime Running Lights fitted to the front. However, for bikers there was another problem, in that the law dictates that headlights must be illuminated on motorbikes during the day. The legislation did not allow for any variation on this, and so there have been numerous riders fined for riding whilst only having their Daytime Running Lights illuminated and not their headlights.
However, as of a change in the law in October of this year, Daytime Running Lights have been incorporated into the legislation and are now legally accepted as being adequate illumination for motorbikes during the normal daylight hours and suitable conditions.
Instruction number 15/S-140 /V-112 clarifies that under European Legislation, category “L” vehicles (mopeds of two or three wheels, motorcycles with or without sidecar, tricycles, light quadricycles and quadricycles) are incorporated into the laws regarding the use of Daytime Running Lights.
The legislation makes a clear distinction between Daytime Running Lights and low-beam headlights.
Low-beam lights are used to illuminate the road ahead of the vehicle without causing undue dazzle or discomfort to drivers coming in the opposite direction, or to other road users.
Daytime Running Lights face forward and are used to make the vehicle more visible in daylight.
The directive also clarifies the required colour of the Daytime Running Lights, stating that the only permitted colours are white or amber.
Motorcycles must be visible to other road users on the grounds of road safety, but as Daytime Running Lights have been developed for this purpose, manufactured specifically to meet this objective, they are acceptable under normal daytime conditions of visibility.