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Thoughts on DRLs and dashboard lighting

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Hello all,

 

Please accept my apologies if my post is in the wrong place. I don't have a complaint as such, more a general observation that raises a safety issue across multiple vehicle manufacturers and I wanted to hear the thoughts of those on the forum.

 

Over the past few years I've noticed a marked increase in the number of vehicles being driven in poor or dark conditions with no headlights on. Drivers failing to turn on their headlights when conditions dictate they should appears to have risen in line with the greater prevalence of cars on the road fitted with daylight running lights (DRLs). Until recently, both observations remained unconnected in my mind.

 

My father recently took delivery of a new Kia Cee'd (an excellent car should anyone be tempted to look at one) and it's fitted with a DRL system. Suddenly the reason why so many motorists fail to turn on their headlights when conditions dictate they should has become clear - when the DRL system is active, i.e. when the headlights are switched off, the dashboard lights also illuminate! The effect is to remove the most effective visual feedback available to the driver that they haven't turned on their lights.

 

DRL systems that I've encountered so far do one of two things when lights are switched on - they either extinguish completely or they dim. The effect is to remove the safety issue associated with ultra-bright lights dazzling oncoming traffic. Were that to be the only issue I would consider it more of an annoyance than a safety concern, however there's another, much more serious, issue associated with DRLs; they don't illuminate the rear of the car, so, if a driver fails to turn on his lights (easier to do now than ever because the dashboard is always illuminated) the rear of the car is in complete darkness. In these winter months where cars get very dirty very quickly, reflector lenses are rendered almost useless.

 

I believe the issue is two-fold:

 

1. Illuminating the dashboard lights at all times removes a key visual indicator that a vehicle's headlights are not turned on.

 

2. DRL systems being fitted now are so large and so bright they illuminate the road surface at night, removing a further visual indicator that headlights are not switched on.

 

Of course I would agree with anyone who said a driver should be in control of their vehicle, aware of the conditions and any actions required to drive safely in those conditions, that's a given, but observation reveals many drivers aren't.

 

With the level of technology fitted to cars these days, even the smallest of cars, it seems like a dangerous oversight to me to allow this kind of situation to occur at all, and one that could be solved easily.

 

I tried contacting RoSPA to ask who best to direct my comments to, however they responded by sending me a list of 'driving in the dark' tips, demonstrating, unfortunately, that they didn't read my email properly in the first place. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not trying to be a one-man-army to resolve what I believe is a serious issue, I'm just trying to highlight it and get others' thoughts.

 

Fraser.

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Agree with your observations Frazer. I drive a lot and I see this often. My Mondeo has LED DLRs and they are very bright, but no way do they replace headlamps. My headlamps come on automatically in the dark, but I still put them on manually if it's foggy, wet, or there is a lot of spray around.

 

As you say though, the bottom line is the driver is responsible for operating their vehicle in a suitable manner, which includes using lights when the road conditions dictate.

 

I think eventually we will end up with the system in the Nordic regions of Europe. There you don't have a choice. Your headlights/rearlights are on all the time.

 

Drivers need to think for themselves, and not rely on the car to do it for them!


Jeremy

 

Computer Problems? Give me a shout...

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Normally the indication I go buy whether or not to turn my lights on or off is if I can't see where I'm going...

 

Although I guess you're referring to side lights?

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Normally the indication I go buy whether or not to turn my lights on or off is if I can't see where I'm going...

 

Although I guess you're referring to side lights?

 

Fair point Joey, but as the OP Said, with a lot of DLRs (mine included) you can see in the dark, particularly in a built up area with street lights.

 

Lights are as much for other people to see you as they are for you to see where you are going. The key point is that DLRs don't give you any rear lights, which in poor road/visibility conditions are essential for others to see you.

 

I was driving up the A168 the other day in thick fog and darkness. There was a Landrover pulling a Horsebox up ahead, with no rear lights on the trailer. He was damn near invisible! I have good eyesight, and I picked up the shame of something ahead of me. I had every light on I could apart from full beams.


Jeremy

 

Computer Problems? Give me a shout...

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Hi Joey,

 

No, I'm referring to daylight running lights - the ultra-bright lights you see modern cars with during the day. Also, I make the point in my first post that many of these systems are actually bright enough to illuminate the road at night, albeit not to the same extent as headlights. The point you make about not being able to see where you're going is fine if you're driving down a poorly lit street, or if you're attentive enough to notice the illumination isn't as bright as you were expecting (as we all should be), but what about motorways or other roads that are permanently lit, or roads where you're surrounded by other cars whose lights are on? It's not always as obvious as you might imagine that your own car doesn't have its lights on.

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A lot of this depends on how the manufacturers decide to run the system and the drivers attitude towards road safety. Not all cars with DRL's have the dash illuminated however all of them have to have a lights on warning on the dash. So at the end of the day it's really the responsibility of the driver.

This system was also tried back in the mid to late 80's but was so unreliable due to technology at the time that the regs were withdrawn however with the advent of LED's it's been mandatory on all cars sold in Europe since 2012.

Does the Kia come with auto head lights on setting?

They are though a massive boon to road safety now.

If you want to complain about the issue you need to write to the VCA (Vehicle Certification Agency) and VOSA. These are the people who make the rules in conjunction with other European bodies.

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Hi,

 

Thanks all for your responses. Thanks also for the information on who to write to Helios, I think I will get in touch and see what they say.

 

I agree they've improved road safety in one sense, and of course I also agree that drivers should be aware of what they're doing, but I still find it amazing that manufacturers appear to have stumbled into this potentially dangerous situation without guarding against it.

 

Thanks again,

Fraser.

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EU law makes the DRL's compulsory on cars built in the last 3 years, there is evidence in Sweden they are a safety benefit but the further south in europe you travel the more the opposite becomes true. However, that wont stop the bureaucrats introducing laws that kill more people than it saves, they will just bring out even more laws.

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I take it you have supporting facts for that EB. The only daft vehicle related ones I can think of are the requirement for diesel particulate filters when most modern diesels don't need them now and the early versions were not developed enough in the time available to comply. And TPMS. Tyre pressure monitoring. What does that do? Again something for emissions believe it or not.

 

 

One area they need to look at which is often overlooked or no Government seems to want to do anything about it anywhere is the amount of spray given off by lorries in the wet on high speed roads along with tighter controls over white van man.

 

 

Now that would be a real improvement to road safety.

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