Position of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) about the large-scale deployment of dedicated daytime running light systems
Publication date: 30 March 2006
The Eurocouncil of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) represents through its affiliated members, national motoring and touring organisations in Europe, more than 40 million motorists in the European Union. Europe’s motoring and touring organisations have as one of their highest priorities the improvement of road safety. In this respect they carry out vehicle and safety equipment consumer tests, offer driver training, run seat belt campaigns and assess the safety of mobility infrastructure. Europe’s motoring organisations are partners in a number of safety assessment programmes like EuroNCAP, NPACS, EuroRAP, EuroTest and EuroTAP.
With regard to the 42000 road users who die each year on European roads and the objective of the European Union to halve this number by 2010, the FIA is of the opinion that that the large-scale deployment of daytime running lights will be an important milestone on the way to reduce the death toll on Europe’s roads and would like to take this opportunity to express its views.
There have been long discussions about using headlights during daytime in:
The advantages to road safety have long been curtailed by difficulties and disadvantages linked to:
- energy consumption
- performance of batteries
- life expectancy of light bulbs
- conspicuity of vulnerable road users
- glare of dipped headlights
- cost of dedicated daytime running light systems
A recent study carried out by the BASt in Germany estimates the accident reduction potential at three percent whereas the Dutch TNO Human Factors report estimates it at 5 to 15 %. An overall cost-benefit analysis, reported in this report, comes to an overall saving in excess of 16 billion €. The analysis outlines that the saving linked to accident reduction (49 billion €) is impaired by increased pollution (10 billion €), higher cost of the lighting system (7 billion €), higher fuel consumption (7 billion €) and higher bulb consumption (9 billion €).
The FIA believes that the conclusions of the CARS 21 High Level Group and the agreement supported by the car manufacturers to fit dedicated DRL on all cars produced for the European car market represent a very important step towards an overall deployment.
The FIA believes that remaining uncertainties concerning the conspicuity of vulnerable road users have been largely lifted by recent studies. For instance the TNO Human Factors report has found no evidence of a reduced conspicuity of road users in the vicinity of a DRL vehicle. However the FIA calls upon the European Union to find an EU harmonised solution to increase the conspicuity of two wheelers, for instance by using yellow DRL. In addition following the results published by TNO Human Factors it is likely that DRL has a favourable effect on accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists.
The FIA also believes that the use of modern dedicated daytime running light systems does not represent any tangible disadvantage with regard to energy consumption. The BASt study estimates additional consumption [litre fuel (petrol) / 100 km] of dipped headlights at 0.207, of modern dedicated daytime running light systems at 0.052 and of modern dedicated LED daytime running lights systems at 0.021. The TNO Human Factors report estimates the additional fuel consumption of dedicated DRL around 0.5 to 1.5 %.
||Deidicated LED DRL|
Consumption [l / 100 km]
|Bulb life expectancy [h]
Taking into consideration that many motorists have already taken the habit of switching on their dipped headlights during daytime the FIA believes that the introduction of dedicated daytime running light systems will contribute to improve the energy efficiency of road transport. This is also valid for certain driving conditions, for instance in the rain or at dusk, when the use of dedicated daytime running lights can advantageously replace dipped headlights adding to the energy saving.
For these reasons the FIA calls upon the European Commission to propose as soon as possible legislation
- to introduce dedicated daytime running lights into the European Whole Vehicle Type Approval and
- to harmonise the use of headlights during daytime.
The FIA stresses the importance of requiring low energy and long-life dedicated DRL (like for instance LED). The European Whole Vehicle Type Approval should specify current consumption, life, brightness and position rather than specific technologies. Dedicated DRL should come on permanently with the ignition. The FIA would be concerned at the possibility of making it an offence for drivers to forget to turn on their lights.
The FIA strongly recommends the combination of dedicated DRL with light sensors switching automatically to dipped headlights when traffic (tunnel) and weather circumstances require it as well as when driving from twilight into darkness. This feature prevents motorist negligence and removes a responsibility that can divert attention from road traffic.
The FIA would like to refer to the recommendation made by the TNO Human Factors for car manufacturers to use high mounted brake lights as an adverse effect on rear-end collisions has been found resulting from the use of headlights during daytime.
For the transitory period the FIA is of the opinion that the Commission should propose legislation obliging drivers to switch on their headlights during daytime. This obligation should apply:
- to all motor vehicles
- at all time of the day
- on the whole territory of the European Union
- from a common date onwards
The FIA sees the need for a large-scale media campaign emphasising the road safety benefits resulting from the use of headlights during daytime. In parallel billboards along main roads should remind drivers to switch on their headlights.
As the use of headlights during daytime will imply the necessity of more frequent replacement of the light bulbs the FIA calls upon the car manufacturers to provide an easy access to light bulbs according to EU and UNECE regulations.
The FIA believes that the positive effects of using headlights during daytime vary depending on the geographical latitude. As the deployment of dedicated daytime running lights in new vehicle types will take a certain time and as the use of dipped headlights increases costs (bulb replacement, flat battery, fuel) and emissions the FIA recommends to carry out further specific cost-benefit analysis with regard to Southern member states as whether longer transitory periods are needed.
Transitory technical solutions for cars without DRL
For the existing vehicle fleet that is not fitted with dedicated DRL retrofit systems will be available. Two retrofit systems can be distinguished:
- universally usable retrofit systems costing 60 to 80 € to be fitted in addition to the existing lighting.
- retrofit systems adapted to specific car models costing 120 to 150 € to be fitted in substitution to the existing lighting. They differentiate themselves from the universally usable retrofit systems by a good esthetical integration.
The FIA welcomes the deployment of retrofit systems under the following conditions:
- the retrofit should not be made mandatory for cars already registered
- all marketed retrofit systems and accessories like automatic switch-on and -off systems as well as warning systems should be subjected to a European type approval system
- the retrofit should come with clear mounting and installation manuals for easy and quick installation at low costs also possible for experienced do-it-yourselvers
- the mounting of retrofit systems should be examined by an accredited workshop or vehicle testing centre documenting the technical changes made to the vehicle
A less fuel efficient alternative is the automatically switching on of the vehicle lighting system after cranking like in some Swedish cars. Also this modification has to be appraised by an accredited workshop or vehicle testing centre.
FIA European Bureau – March 2006
 Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen (2005), Abschlussbericht, Abschätzung möglicher Auswirkungen von Fahren mit Licht am Tag (Tagfahrleuchten / Abblendlicht) in Deutschland
 The TNO Human Factors report on Daytime running lights (2003) has been commissioned by the European Commission.
 See also the TNO Human Factors report.
 See also the TNO Human Factors report.