Road accidents usually happen at night when it’s hard to see other vehicles on the road. However, this is not always the case. According to the National Safety Council, fatal and nonfatal crashes usually start at 4 p.m. when there is still daylight. This means that even if motorists can see the road ahead, there are times when it’s hard to see other vehicles. Inclement weather and low contrast between the car and the environment usually cause these crashes.

To prevent these accidents, drivers can install daytime running lights (DRL) on their vehicles. When you start the ignition, these ambient lamps automatically turn on and come in yellow, amber, and white.

How do daylight running lights prevent accidents? Let’s see how these additional lights can help you stay safe on the road and avoid DOT violations.

What Are Daytime Running Lights?

Daytime running lights (DRLs) are a safety feature that helps reduce daytime accidents. They increase the contrast between your driver’s vehicle and the environment so motorists have better visibility of other vehicles.

These lights are located under a vehicle’s headlight and come in handy during heavy weather conditions. In addition to using a vehicle’s low-beams during heavy rain, fog, or snow, these lights can be used during the day or evening so other drivers can see your vehicle.

With the help of DRLs, you can avoid collisions on days when you can’t see clearly what’s in front of you.

How Do DRLs Improve Safety & Visibility?

Daytime running lights are mandated in Scandinavian countries and Canada, where low-light situations can hamper driving. Although DRLs are not required in the United States, they appear to effectively reduce head-on collisions and intersection crashes.

Here are some reasons why DRLs can be essential to everyday driving:

  • Increases visibility of your vehicle: DRLs do not offer a lot of road illumination. Instead, they provide the right lighting that allows pedestrians and cyclists to see your vehicle better. In a way, DRLs are made for other road users—not just the driver.
  • Increases reaction time: Rural areas and bad weather can make driving especially difficult. It’s hard to make quick decisions when you don’t know what’s in front of you. With daytime running lights, you are able to identify other drivers quickly and they are able to identify you. This allows plenty of time to take the appropriate actions to prevent an accident. 
  • A reasonable safety precaution to use as proof in a claim or accident: Road accidents are always a tricky situation. Investigations can take a long time to finish, and there is often a need to present evidence to clear drivers from liability. DRLs work best with a fleet management system in presenting evidence that exonerates drivers after a crash.

What Are the Benefits of Daytime Running Lights?

Newer car models have DRLs built into the design. Older vehicles can have DRLs installed in them with the help of a professional.

If you are still on the fence about whether you need daylight running lights installed, consider these benefits:

  1. DRLs use less energy than regular headlights: Though DRLs are not made to replace headlights, you can rest assured the DRLs will not drain your gas tank. Although these ambient lights turn on automatically when the engine starts, they do not consume as much energy since they are made of LED.
  2. DRLs automatically adjust to the driver’s needs: DRLs automatically shut off when the headlights are on. Some car manufacturers integrate DRLs into the side lights or headlamps, which disables the lights to avoid disorienting other motorists.
  3. DRLs can be used on foggy days: High-beam lights cause glare that can distract other drivers on the road, especially on hazy days. When there’s reduced visibility due to bad weather conditions, daytime lamps provide sufficient lighting to signal other motorists. Since DRLs are ambient only, they are not too bright to be distracting. However, DRLs are not substitutes for fog lamps, which you should use during inclement weather.
  4. DRLs prevent accidents: When there’s poor road visibility, accidents are bound to happen. Vehicle crashes occur when motorists do not have enough time to adjust their speed when there is an oncoming vehicle. Installing DRLs in your truck can stop these things from happening and prevent insurance headaches.

What Are Some Tips for Using Daytime Running Lights?

One common misconception about DRLs is the expensive price point. While you may need to shell out some cash for installation, DRL units are not necessarily costly. LED daytime lamps do not consume much energy and will not reduce your fuel or battery consumption.

DRLs are meant to supplement other safety precautions. Drivers cannot rely on them 100percent of the time, even though they effectively reduce accidents. Maintaining a safe following distance and driving within speed limits still trump using these lighting accessories. Drivers and transportation companies also need fleet safety technology to boost overall safety. Netradyne AI dashcams can help detect unsafe driving behaviors (e.g., close following distance and swerving) and other potential traffic road violations.

Final Thoughts

Daytime running lights help other drivers see your vehicle and help you see fellow motorists on the road. Although they effectively prevent potential road accidents, they are not a substitute for headlights or safe driving behavior. DRLs work best with fleet safety technology that allows drivers and fleet managers to see what is happening on the road.

Learn more about how you can enhance safety for your fleet with AI-powered technology.


  1. What was General Motors’ petition regarding the use of DRLs in the U.S.?
    General Motors (GM), an American automaker, submitted a petition to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 1990. The purpose of their petition was to seek permission for U.S. vehicles to be equipped with Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), a safety feature similar to what was already being used in Canada. The response to GM’s petition was not immediate, and it took several years for a decision to be reached due to mixed reactions from the public and industry. Eventually, with the arrival of the 1995 model year vehicles, the NHTSA granted permission for the same types of DRLs that were being used in Canada to be installed in U.S. vehicles. However, it is important to note that this approval did not make DRLs mandatory; their installation was permitted but not required.
  2. Are DRLs mandated in the U.S.?
    DRLs, also known as Daytime Running Lights, are not mandated in the United States. Although it is legal to use them, there is no requirement to have DRLs installed on vehicles. In 2001, General Motors sought to make DRLs mandatory for all cars in the U.S. by petitioning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, their proposal was ultimately denied in 2009. The NHTSA decision was made based on the flaws found in the evidentiary studies and data presented by General Motors. It is important to note that while some U.S. states have regulations that specify the use of headlights in conjunction with windshield wipers, DRLs are not considered headlights in most vehicle codes. Therefore, they do not fulfill this particular requirement.

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Cecille Doroja