Daytime running lights, an extra safety when driving

For many years there has been a heated debate regarding the use of our vehicle lighting during the day. A controversy that technology and the Law have resolved, in order to gain safety and comfort during our trips.


Until recently, hardly any of the vehicles we saw on our roads used to have their lights on during the day. A fact that only occurred in areas near tunnels, due to drivers being distracted, or on days of bad weather, in which some users turned on these lights as an additional safety measure.

This situation led to a fierce debate between those who defended the use of car lights throughout the day, for safety reasons, versus those who saw no reason in it and appealed to reasons of durability and even environmental. This debate had already been resolved a long time ago in countries such as the Netherlands or Norway, where the obligation to carry those lights on was already part of their highway codes, regardless of the weather conditions.


An obvious increase in security

The main reasons why the supporters of having the lights on at all times defend this theory have to do with the safety and visibility that is gained by this measure. Some aspects that have no discussion, since there are many studies in this regard that strongly support this theory. One of them, made by Philips, argues that a vehicle driving with the lights on is visible from a distance of approximately 240 meters. If the vehicle does not have them on, this distance is reduced to just half.

This difference is even more prominent as the presence of sunlight is reduced, such as it happens on cloudy or rainy days, or during autumn and winter, in which natural light conditions are considerably reduced . In these situations, the use of low beams during the day is almost essential, due to the extra security they provide to our trips. The same is true on mountain roads or during the periods before dusk and after dawn, when it is also highly recommended to use these lights.


What naysayers say

As in any debate, the use of daytime running lights also has its detractors. Among the arguments that these use are some such as the wear of the material or the “ecological cost” related to the excessive use of these lights. It is true that older car lights have a considerable energy consumption and a durability in hours that is not very high, but the truth is that both parameters do not pose a big problem when making a decision about it.

On the consumption side, the use of daytime running lights does not mean a notable increase in fuel terms. Even though the classic halogen bulbs have a power of about 50 to 60 watts in use. There are not many studies in this regard, but the truth is that the amount of energy used and its cost is rather negligible, hovering around 1% of total consumption in the cases that give the highest results.

Regarding the material, the durability of traditional halogen bulbs is also tighter than that of LED models. This durability is estimated at 500 or 600 hours, so it is true that intensive use of the lights may require more frequent changes. However, the cost of these bulbs is low and compensates for the extra expense on security. Even better is the comparison in cars with xenon bulbs, whose useful life is about five years.


What brands offer

In this context, brands have already taken sides very clearly. The arrival of LED car lights has been a revolution for new vehicles when it comes to seeing and being seen on the road. Virtually all cars that leave the dealership today include this type of lights, either for general lighting or to be seen. So the presence of a strip of LED daytime running lights on the front of the car is already a common.

These lights have the advantage of having the good of daytime lighting without the inconvenience of glare or the energy waste of old halogen bulbs, so we are left with only the good. In any case, this support is not accidental but is due to European regulations in this regard. The standard, approved in February 2011, required that new vehicles sold in the European Union after its approval had to include these low consumption daytime running lighting systems. A rule that, from the experience we are seeing, has taken a long time to become a reality.


What if my car is old?

If your vehicle is older than the standard we have discussed, you have two options. The simplest is to use the low beams of your car as daytime running lights in any situation that requires it or even on all your trips. It is not something that is a problem for you and, in return, you will gain safety and visibility, both your own and that of other road users.

The other, more complex option is to add these daytime running lights to your vehicle. It is true that in any comparison of car lights ( check this link for some purchase options ) you can find kits with which to equip your vehicle with this LED lighting, but the problem is that its legalization process is not so simple. 

To begin with, it is key that the chosen daytime running light kit has EU homologation, as you will need it for its legalization. Once they are installed, always by a professional workshop, you must pass the ITV and provide both the certificate of approval of the installation (that of the workshop) and that of the lights you have purchased. Without these documents it will not be possible to legalize the installation. Something that ultimately translates into money and a lot of time to get approval.



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