Publication

State of the art with respect to implementation of daytime running lights

Study in the framework of a European Commission project, Work Package 1

Author(s)

Commandeur, Jacques

Year

2004

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This report is part of the documentation of a project funded by the European Commission, designed to assess the effects of Daytime Running Lights (DRL) and possible strategies for implementing the use of DRL in the European Union (EU). The objectives of the present report are two-fold: 1. to provide an inventory of the currently legislated requirements for the use of DRL in the EU and elsewhere, and how that legislation has been implemented in these countries. 2. to assess what has been learned from the existing implementations, so as to take these findings into account in the later development of realistic implementation strategies. To this end, the relevant questions and issues to be addressed were identified and formulated, and a questionnaire was written and sent to the following countries: - all fifteen member states of the EU; - the future EU countries where DRL has been implemented; - the remaining countries where DRL has been implemented and where the safety effects of DRL have in some form been evaluated. The inventory of the currently legislated requirements for the use of DRL in the EU and elsewhere shows that DRL has been implemented both as a technical and as a behavioural measure. So far, the majority of DRL countries chose to impose DRL as a behavioural measure. However, most cars in the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) are sold with an automatic DRL switch as well. The countries which currently have legislation on the use of DRL can be further distinguished in whether they impose DRL during the entire year or in winter time only, and on all roads or on rural roads only. When setting up European guidelines for the implementation of DRL, it is important to take the arguments against DRL into account. These arguments are enumerated in the present report. Since most of the adverse effects mentioned in these arguments can be minimised or even completely solved by the implementation of DRL as a technical measure, it is recommended to make the installation of automatic dedicated DRL on new cars —combined with a light sensitive switch automatically activating the low beam headlights in reduced visibility conditions (and deactivating the DRL)- at least part of the DRL implementation scenarios to be developed later in the project. In DRL countries the use of media campaigns during the introduction of DRL was found to range all the way from no media campaigns at all in Hungary to massive media campaigns in Canada. Since all DRL countries indicate not having met with much resistance and opposition against DRL after its implementation, there does not seem to be much that can be learned in terms of what type of media campaign would be optimal when introducing DRL in a non-DRL country. However, the Canadian expert on DRL recommends that other countries intending to implement DRL policies take steps to inform their population about the basic workings of visual perception relative to the driving task, since some of the comments from the Canadian public about DRL seemed to reflect a lack of understanding of the role and importance of contrast in aiding visual perception. Most DRL countries used a gradual approach to the implementation of DRL, either by encouraging the voluntary use of DRL before the introduction of DRL legislation, or by a gradual extension of compulsory DRL usage over more and more types of roads, over more and more months of the year, and/or for more and more types of road users. Such gradual implementation strategies allow road users to gain personal experience in the visual workings of DRL, thus probably also contributing to obtain broader public acceptance for DRL legislation. These findings, combined with the experience that most of the opposition against DRL greatly subsided in countries after DRL legislation was implemented, leads us to recommend that the implementation of DRL in non-DRL countries is preceded with a period of recommended DRL usage, accompanied with media campaigns clearly explaining how the visual workings of DRL contribute to the improvement of road safety.

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