Shine a light on Road Safety – A conversation on the use of headlights

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Irish Summer; three months of endless sunshine and dry days, right? Of course not! And let’s not delve in to Irish Winters. This country experiences some of the dullest, wet days year around. When the rain or the fog or just the general dull weather strikes and driving visibility is drastically reduced, why is that so many of us deem it unnecessary to use our headlights?

Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) have been required to be fitted to all new cars and light commercial vehicles manufactured since 07 February 2011 as specified in EU Directive 2008/89/EC.

However, this directive has some pretty significant loopholes. 

  1. DRLs are front-facing only, rear lights are not included. 
  2. Cars produced before February 2011 are not required to be retrofitted with DRLs
  3. Many DRLs are simply insufficient in adverse weather conditions. 

In as many as 19 European countries, motorists are required by law to drive with dipped-beam headlights at all times, even in Germany, Spain and France the practice is highly recommended and often required by motorcycles.
Studies indicate that a massive 4 out 5 daytime collisions occur as a direct result of one motorist not seeing the other in time and that the use of lights during the day can reduce fatalities by up to 15%.

Here in Ireland, we have some of the lowest annual sunshine hours, coupled with some of the highest rainfall amounts in Europe, so how is that we are so far behind this clearly positive safety trend? Is it time that we catch up with our European cousins? Should we at least legislate for headlight use in wet weather?

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