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Daytime Running Lights "could prevent road fatalities"

By: Elizabeth Smythe
21 December 2011

Making daytime driving lights mandatory could save hundreds of lives, new research suggests.

While the basics of driving and road safety are no doubt covered in the compulsory driver CPC training courses, the positive impact of using headlights during the day may not be on the syllabus yet.

However a report by the European Commission has inferred that if used throughout the EU, Daytime Running Light (DRL) could prevent up to 2,000 road fatalities every year.

It reads: "DRL has a high potential to increase road safety. They help road users to better and earlier detect, recognise and identify vehicles. Studies estimate the life-saving potential of DRL to be in the order of 3 to 5 per cent of the yearly number of road fatalities," according to dadrl.org.uk.

Additionally, it is argued, daytime lights improve visibility for the driver. As such, earlier this year, the Commission made it compulsory for all new cars to be manufactured with DRL. New trucks will be similarly equipped from August 2012.

However, critics of the scheme argue that it simply lines the pockets of expensive bulb-manufacturers. While a separate study shows that use of high-tech Xenon bulbs in all cars during the day could save 18 per cent of fatalities, BBC News writes, the bulbs themselves cost £85 each.

Some car manufacturers are working on smarter lighting designs, using LED lights that incorporate cameras to detect hazards. Plus they use less energy than traditional bulbs.

Ultimately, the issue is about visibility, says Dominiek Plancke, general manager of automotive for Philips Lighting. He told BBC News: "If you don't see correctly, then other aspects of safety, such as brakes, are less effective as they come on later."

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