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Day Running Lights

Day Time Running Lights UK Law

Daytime running lights (sometimes referred to as DRLs or daylight running lamps) are low-wattage bulbs that are fitted to a car to improve visibility during daylight hours. As of 7th February 2011, DRLs have become a mandatory fitting to all new type approved passenger vehicles (except trailers).

DRLs must switch on with the vehicle ignition and switch off when the vehicle sidelights are switched on. They can also be made to function as front position (side) lights, which operate at a reduced intensity when the vehicle dipped beam is switched on.

You may have already seen DRLs out on the road – many manufacturers such as Audi have fitted them to new models. They can usually be found just below the car’s main headlights, and normally switch on with the vehicle ignition and off when the vehicle dipped beam is turned on.

Why has The Daytime Running Lights Law Been Introduced?

The answer is simple – these lights improve road safety during daylight hours. The lighting makes cars more visible to pedestrians crossing the road, and to other motorists.

In fact, studies carried out by the European Commission and the Department for Transport have both found that daytime running lights can reduce accidents and casualties during daytime hours.

Daytime Running Lights are Purpose-made, low-wattage lights that can be fitted to a vehicle and used during the day to improve the visibility of a vehicle to other drivers as well as pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. They do not need to be operated manually as they automatically activate when the engine is started and turn off when the engine stops or when headlights are switched on at night.

DRL are necessarily bright to ensure they are visible in the daytime but not so bright that they will dazzle others. However they are too bright for night time use and are not intended to illuminate the road in the dark. If used at night they will cause dazzle and discomfort to others and so drivers should always switch to their position lamps or headlamps at night.


Research has shown that DRLs are likely to reduce multiple vehicle daytime accidents and fatalities by up to 6% once all vehicles are equipped. DRL are likely to result in a small increase in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of around 0.5% but this is expected to be lower when LEDs are used in place of filament light sources.

The daytime running light was first mandated, and safety benefits first perceived, in Scandinavian countries where it is frequently and persistently dark during daytime hours in winter time. As ambient light levels increase, the potential safety benefit decreases while the DRL intensity required for a safety improvement increases. The safety benefit produced by DRLs in relatively dark Nordic countries is roughly triple the benefit observed in relatively bright America.