Eva's Blog

I've started a new stream of blogs:

Are daytime running lights going to kill us?

Sometimes when I drive after dark, I get scared. It’s not because of an imaginary bogeyperson or unresolved mother issues; I’m scared because I see so many cars driving without their lights on. I find it terrifying coming from behind having to rely on my headlights to reflect the un-lit tail lights as the only way to know they’re in front of me: especially on the highway travelling at 100km! It scares me because I worry for our safety: the sans-lights drivers, for me and mine, and for everyone else on the road.

Safety issues with the regulated daytime running lights - they go on automatically when you start your car - seem to be happening more and more. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen it, and I sure hope it’s been before it got to condolences: to children and parents, sisters and brothers, friends and co-workers.

I thought, why not just have all the lights, including tail lights, go on automatically all the time? Why is it only the headlights, and recently dashboard lights? Well, little horsey, that seems to just add even more and more problems.

And anyway, I’ve seen the same no-lights problem with older cars that don’t’ have the automatic running light feature; they’re just running without any lights turned on! On a personal level, you want to let these drivers know immediately that they’re a safety hazard. An obvious response is to flash high-beams to get their attention. But this seems to always result in mild road-rage - with no effect to get those lights turned on.

Recently, I was lucky enough to pull alongside one at a red traffic light. It was an older car, with an L on the back. I could tell right away that a husband was passenger-teaching his Learner wife. I rolled down my window. He looked over apprehensively, but rolled down his window. In a friendly tone, I said “it’s pretty dark now; you don’t have your lights turned on!” He urgently turned and spoke something to his wife: on came the lights. He turned back to me, we simultaneously did a thumbs up, smiled, and off we went as the traffic light changed.

Maybe we do need regulators to rethink the daytime running lights' requirement. Should it be all lights or perhaps no lights? Maybe we also need to improve education and awareness so it’s in the forefront of drivers’ minds? But maybe we also need to care more, and to help others be safe. Maybe safety is in large part a community issue, not just a regulatory one.