Daytime running lights – which have been required to be fitted on all new vehicles since 2011 – may be causing confusion amongst drivers, the RAC has claimed.

It said many drivers don’t turn on their dipped lights or sidelights, perhaps mistakenly thinking that because they have daytime running lights on automatically at the front the same applies to the rear lights, however, not all vehicles are fitted with rear DRLs.

An RAC Opinion Panel survey of 2,061 motorists found that more than six in 10 (62%) claimed to see other cars and vans driving in dull overcast conditions without any rear lights on while they noted these vehicles did have lights on at the front.

Daytime running lights

“This is potentially a very worrying finding as it implies that many motorists are driving without any rear lights believing that because they have running lights that switch on automatically at the front, they are also on at the rear. Alternatively, and arguably just as concerning, these drivers could simply have decided the light conditions were not bad enough to merit turning on their dipped lights or sidelights,” said RAC road safety spokesman, Pete Williams.

Asked if they knew whether the car they drive most frequently had daytime running lights nearly half (47%) stated that their vehicle did not, 29% said theirs had them at the front only, 14% said they had them at both the front and the rear and 8% knew they did at the front but were unsure about the rear, the RAC said.

Williams added: “While daytime running lights are clearly bringing a very valuable safety benefit to the UK’s roads, it would be good for every driver to take just a few minutes to make sure they know whether the vehicles they drive have them or not. And if they do, then check to see if they have them at the rear as well as the front. That way those that don’t have them at the back will be far more likely in poor daylight visibility to switch on their dipped lights to make their vehicle more easily seen from behind.”