DRLs – ‘high vis’ for the road

Once seemingly the exclusive domain of prestige European cars, Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) have become a common sight on many new passenger and commercial vehicles.

DRLs have been mandatory in Scandinavia and parts of North America for a few decades now and there are plenty of statistics to back up their effectiveness.

For example, in Europe alone DRLs have been found to have prevented an estimated 25% of daytime multi-vehicle fatal crashes, 28% of daytime fatal pedestrian crashes, 20% of daytime multi-vehicle injury crashes and 12% of daytime multi-vehicle property crashes.

One US study estimated a 5% reduction in multiple vehicle crashes and a 9% reduction in crashes involving pedestrians.

Like the high visibility vest on a work site, DRLs are all about being seen.

Of course it makes sense in parts of the world that spend significant parts of the year in low light conditions, but do DRLs make sense in bright sunny Australia?

It seems the answer is ‘yes’ according to Australian transport research body, ARRB. Multi-vehicle accident figures Down Under could be reduced by as much as 13% if all road going vehicles were fitted with DRLs.

DRLs are increasingly becoming standard kit on heavy commercial vehicles as well. And it’s easy to see why.

The kinds of accidents that DRLs are said to be the most effective at preventing are head on collisions and multi vehicle collisions at intersections. Places where a heavy vehicle accident can cause a lot of damage to people and property if they aren’t seen.

The shimmering heat haze of an inland highway can create a deceptive mirage, masking oncoming traffic. Overtaking vehicles can suddenly find themselves facing an oncoming truck with nowhere to go.

To back this up consider the iconic Australian road train. A three trailer road train combination stretches up to 56-metres long and can weigh up to 130 tonnes. You may think that there shouldn’t be any way you could miss one of these trucks barrelling down the highway towards you.

However, by law these trucks have to run with their lights on at all times of the day. The reason isn’t so much for other heavy vehicle drivers who have the advantage of a high vantage point. The main advantage of this practice is so that motorists can see the approaching truck from the lower vantage point of their car.

The DRL is becoming high visibility work wear for the Australian highway. And it may save lives.  If your vehicle doesn’t have DRLs, no worries, there are plenty of aftermarket options available including several kits from Narva.