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Ego-oriented logic challenged by facts
Evident safety advantages
with daytime running lights

The left car, lights off, is difficult to see. With low beam lights (middle), the car is easier to be noticed. At right, the car is the most obviously noticeable thanks to its special daytime running lights. Photo: Hella.

17th May 2006.

Who needs lights on during the day, especially in nice weather?

Is it really necessary to add that fuel consumption, no matter how small it could be, while reducing the service life of both battery and light bulbs?

Well, changing old habits does take time, even if new lights, batteries and engine technologies are still constantly reducing all the previous drawbacks.

But does it really make a big difference if we drive in daytime with the lights on, or much better, with specific daytime running lights (DRL)?

In safety terms, the answer is definitely yes, especially with special daytime running lights (can be retrofitted separately).

For most of us, the different reasons for using lights during the day or the night is not always obvious.

Our logic tends to go from inside-out. Light is here for me first (the subject) to see the others (the object). So, I only need to switch my lights on when the ambient light is not sufficient for... my own sight, mainly at night or in tunnels for instance.

Normal low beam (left to right) provides effective illumination of the road in the dark...

...while daytime running lights (left to right also) are designed for warning effectiveness during daylight. Photos: Hella.

Left on its own, our ego-oriented (sounds softer than egocentric) thinking might overlook the other way round: the need to let others see us, in daylight, not just at night. In ego-oriented terms, we don't only need to see others, we need to show them that we are here. In both ways, it's a game of mirroring  subjects and objects who need to see and to be seen.

That's why in terms of safety, daytime running lights offer a clear advantage, as shown for instance and among other aspects, by a study carried out on behalf of the European Commission (July 2005), by the Dutch SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research.

The study shows that in 50% of all daytime accidents (80% in intersection crashes), one contributing factor was that other vehicles were either not seen or were seen too late.

Compulsory in many other countries already, in Germany the decision in relation to requiring daytime running light has yet to be made.

However, according to a DEKRA survey (service provider in the automotive, industrial, personnel and international business sectors), the readiness to drive with lights on during the day is high in the case of German car drivers.

The survey shows that three out of four car drivers are open-minded with regard to the introduction of daytime running light. 59.3 percent approve of a corresponding legal requirement. As many as 67. 5 percent of the car drivers asked support the idea of new vehicles being equipped with economical daytime running lights.

But how about a separate, yet simple daytime running lights system that can be retrofitted for a reasonable price?

The automotive supplier and lighting specialist Hella has developed such special daytime running lights for retrofitting. These lights are designed for warning effectiveness during daylight and switch on automatically when the engine is started.

The rest of the vehicle lighting remains switched off, and, with a power consumption of about 16 watts, additional fuel consumption remains therefore insignificant.

The daytime running lights carry out their task much better than normal low beam, which provides effective illumination of the road in the dark. In addition, their service life is up to ten times higher than that of a halogen bulb for low beam.

Motor-vehicle garages are now starting a daytime-running-light campaign together with Hella. This campaign is intended to enhance safety on the roads during the day. Interested car drivers can have vehicle-specific or universal Hella daytime running lights retrofitted for a reasonable price at a nearby garage.

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