Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are DRLs?
A. DRLs is short for Daytime Running Lights or Daytime Running Lamps. These are lights on the front of vehicles that are automatically activated when you start your car or put it in gear. In the US they are implemented on either the low or high beam headlights, the turn signal lights, or as a separate light altogether. Obviously, the "standard" is pretty loose. At least foglights are not permitted to be used as DRLs. DRLs are intended to make a car more visible to oncoming traffic, but their benefits are nil.
Q Are there any safety advantages of DRLs?
A. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT DRLs WILL HAVE A SAFETY BENEFIT IN THE UNITED STATES OR OTHER AREAS WITH AMPLE NATURAL LIGHT.
Q. How effective are DRLs?
A. In Canada, where DRLs have been in place since 1989, the government has done no studies but ESTIMATES that DRLs save 120 lives each year. How can they make such an estimate with no research or data? In the US the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a preliminary assessment of DRL effectiveness in June, 2000 as well as a followup in 2004. NHTSA's FARS data found no statistically significant benefit for DRLs in two vehicle fatal crashes, yet NHTSA still permits high intensity, safety negative, DRLs to be installed on vehicles in the US. Why?
Q. Where are DRLs required?
A. Laws in Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Norway and Sweden require vehicles to operate with their lights on during the daytime. Some laws require all vehicles to be equipped with DRLs. Others simply mandate that drivers turn their lights on at all times.
Q. Are DRLs available on all vehicles in the U.S.?
A. No. Currently, hardwired DRLs are offered as standard equipment on GM, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Saab, Volvo, Volkswagen, Suzuki, and Subaru vehicles, as well a handful of large trucks. Mercedes Benz, Audi, and BMW have "programmable" DRLs. Unfortunately, these companies have implemented DRLs on the headlamps, including high beams and the obnoxiously bright HID lamps. To their credit, these manufacturers will disable the DRLs for the owner, but until they change their implementation to use the parking or turn signal lamps, they will remain on our enemies list. Acura has recently fitted hardwired high beam DRLs to its RL series and is now an enemy of DADRL. Lexus has begun to switch to turn signal based DRLs on some of their vehicles, which is a step in the right direction.
Toyota has recently switched from hardwired DRLs as standard equipment and have accordingly be tentatively moved to our friends list. Daimler/Chrysler, Ford, and Isuzu offer DRLs as optional equipment only on a small number of vehicles, but otherwise have have not committed to full scale DRL implementation on all vehicles. For 2006 it appears that Honda will be fitting high beam DRLs to the Civic and Accord and have been moved to our enemies list. We have not seen DRLs on Nissan, Infinity, Kia, Jaguar, Porsche, or Ferrari vehicles. Of course, GM will sell a retrofit DRL kit for vehicles that don't already have them. The kits will be usable on non-GM cars, as well. Profitable, very profitable.
Q. Why aren't DRLs already mandatory in the U.S.?
A. Many state laws prohibited DRLs prior to 1992, when NHTSA stepped in with federal regulations that rendered state laws null and void. In addition, NHTSA initially rejected the idea of DRLs, saying there was no evidence they served a purpose.
Q. Will DRLs shorten bulb life?
A. Undoubtedly. Proponents say DRLs will not shorten bulb life, but how can that be? With lights on at all times, the lifetime of the bulb is certainly shortened. Check out the number of Chevy/GMC pickups with one burned out DRL. The same can be said for the amber, turn signal DRLs used on the Camaro/Firebird. This is very unsafe as it gives the impression that the remaining amber lamp is a malfunctioning turn signal. We've also heard from people who are replacing headlamp bulbs at more frequent intervals because the headlamps are run between 50% and 90% power at all times.
Q. Will DRLs reduce fuel economy?
A. Yes. The energy required to power the DRLs is not free. It is not surplus energy that is just "available" from the vehicle's engine. Various estimates place the reduction in overall fuell efficiency at 0.25 - 0.5 mpg, and cost estimates range from $5 - $15 per year. GM estimates the annual cost of DRLs at less than $10 per vehicle per year. Multiply that by 200 million vehicles in the US, and you can see why we oppose mandatory DRLs. The cost of DRLs over several years cannot possibly justify the benefits, especially the the benefits are in serious doubt. Given the increasing price of gasoline, the economic impact of DRLs will only get worse. Further, the combustion of the additional gasoline required to power the nation's DRLs will result in several billion pounds of pollutants being exhausted into the atmosphere. What makes the federal government's position on DRLs seem so strange is that the Environmental Protection Agency allows GM to disconnect DRLs before testing! Why?
Q. Will other drivers be bothered by the glare from DRLs?
A. Again, undoubtedly. Think about how much YOU would be bothered by oncoming headlights on an already sunny day, or being followed for 25 miles with headlights in your rearview mirror.
Q. Are motorcycles required to have DRLs?
A. It varies from state to state. But if all vehicles have DRLs, motorcycles will become less noticeable, thus increasing highway mortality for motorcycle drivers. Since the use of DRLs became more common around 1998, motorcycle fatalities have dramatically risen [Source: NHTSA]. We don't think this is a coincidence. Given the relatively small cross section of a motorcycle in comparison to an automobile, we are not opposed to motorcycle DRLs. However, we are strongly opposed to cyclists that ride with their full intensity high beams on or with modulated high or low beams, although we understand their desire to be noticed above the current sea of DRLs.
Q. How will my state law be affected?
A. Most states had laws in effect to protect drivers from unnecessary lights. Those laws have been superseded and automatically overturned by a federal regulation from unelected officials.
Q. Do you plan to oppose the running light law in Canada?
A. Not at this time. Our focus is on banning DRLs and ending daytime headlight use in the United States and the UK. If you would like to start an effort in Canada, please contact us at info //-AT-// LightsOut.org.
Q. Who is the driving force behind possible DRL regulation?
A. Surprisingly, GM and the Insurance Insitute for Highway Safety proposed most of the regulation. But there is a clear profit motive, as the industry will be able to collectively raise automobile and truck prices, in addition to collecting untold millions in maintenance costs. The fuel industry would also benefit, with a decreased fuel efficiency in every vehicle. To NHTSA's credit, they originally opposed the maximum intensity limit of 7000 candela, but then knuckled under the pressure of GM and permitted such DRLs to be implemented.
Q. What can I do to help stop DRLs from becoming required on every vehicle in my state?
A. For starters, join our organization. We're here to represent your interests, and will actively oppose DRL legislation or regulations at every turn.
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