Monday, August 23, 2010

Get rid of Daytime Running Lights

Daytime running lights - DRLs. One of my pet peeves. Why? Well I ride a motorcycle and motorcycles are, whichever way you look at it, more vulnerable on the roads and less likely to be seen by idiot car drivers. The solution was to ride with our lights on to make ourselves more visible to everyone else - to draw attention to ourselves. Sadly, in recent years, car manufacturers the world over have started wiring headlights on cars to be always-on, calling them "Daytime Running Lights". Now, motorcyclists are lost in a sea of car headlights. And why? Because misguided politicians quoting non-existant safety reports have convinced the world that we all need our headlights on all time time.
Well at least on some cars you can prevent this - see my post from a while back ("Hack Your Car") where I disabled the DRLs on my VW. Frankly I think we should all be able to prevent this and apparently I'm not the only one. An increasingly vocal group calling themselves Drivers Against Daytime Running Lights (DaDRL) are also getting alarmingly agitated about this same issue. DaDRL is a worldwide voluntary group of experienced motorists including Scientists, Engineers, Mathematicians, Lawyers and Ophthalmological experts who are supported by the leading Pedestrian, Cyclist and Motorcyclist organisations committed to improving road safety by reducing glare and distraction.
If you're interested, their various sites are listed below. Take the time to read over some of the studies that have been actually carried out as opposed to manufactured by politicians. It makes interesting reading. Then turn your bloody headlights off in the daytime!


DaDRL USA (LightsOut)

DaDRL Bulgaria

DaDRL Poland

DaDRL Lithuania


Silas said...

Frankly, a better thing to aim for in the US would be a complete re-do of the headlamp regulations. The current Federal standard is, not to put too fine a point on it, complete shite. I would far rather have US regulations changed to match the rest of the world, which gets better illumination of the road, better illumination of signs, less glare for oncoming drivers, and cause SUVs with their higher-set lights to dazzle car drivers less. There is, for certain makes and models, a thriving market in technically illegal "e-code" headlamps, because the drivers can tell that the US regulations are crap. Even the Canadian government has admitted that the (effectively 1940-vintage) US regulations are no good, and allows European-type headlamps or US-type.

Not that I don't support the objective of making daytime running lights a choice, but I fo feel there are things which would make a bigger difference to safety in the arena of automotive lighting.

Geoff Selvidge said...

The motorcycle manufacturers were first to work with automatic lights on (ALO)and as a fellow biker, I agreed with it as I agree with your sentiment about the cars.

The Swedish have a lot to answer for, they were (I believe) first to make ALO a legal requirement with Volvo taking the 'safety' lead. Course, they also then had a high instance of Supersport motorcycle accidents resulting in unaffordable insurance premiums.

The Swedish bike market then became dominated with heavy cruiser iron so if the car did pull out you just rode on through...

Adam said...

Regardless of who has which lights on or off, perhaps motorcyclists would encounter less problems if the rode in the centre of a lane rather than along the white boundary line.

Chris said...

Part of the reason for riding on the line is to give more room for people who don't see us when they turn out of a side road. That extra few feet gives us more evasive space.

Adam said...

Quite understand in those situations, but I'm referring to the white line between the lanes on a dual carriageway for example, particularly in high volume traffic.

Anonymous said...

Here in Baltics we must use DLR or fog or low beam lights in day. It is in effect already about 15 years now. My thoughts:

Pros for DLR:
1. Better visibility in city or rural. Safer to overtake.
2. Easy to distinguish parked cars with driving cars.
3. No more misunderstandings in low visibility(fog, rain, twilight) situations when someone drives without lights while law requires to use at least fog lights. Safer.
4. Bikes are easier to see.

Cons for DLR:
1. If lowbeam or fog lights are used as DLR the side lights are lit too and so it is harder in daylight to see brake lights for car in front. 3rd brake light should be a must. If rear lights are tinted then it is even worse. Bad.
2. Lower mpg(higher fuel consumption). It is price for safety and can be reduced by using LED DLRs.
3. If someone forget to turn on DLR it is not seen in traffic. Dangerous. Drivers tend to get accustomed to DLR and are less careful.
4. If fog (or lowbeam is not turned fully on) is used instead of DLR the panel is lit too and can forget to turn the main lights in night. Typical. In city at night 1/100 drivers forget to turn on main lights.
5. Some Bike drivers start to use high beam instead of DLR falsely assuming that they are more "visible" to others. Instead they are glaring oncoming traffic and making it even worse. Stupid - just don't speed and it will be safe. Bikes are NOT exceptions they must respect the same law.

Conclusion: DLR for large countries are not effective as they have very different climate zones in the same region.
The MPG are lower so more fuel is wasted. Big no for Russia, China, India or USA as there would be higher oil prices. It is "cheaper" for USA not to use DLR and have higher mortality in accidents. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

And one more reason why DLR are not usable in USA - The silly red turn signals, they are not visible and any new lights make it even worse. Who in the hell inveneted these?