Permanent Headlight Usage Shown to Reduce Car Accidents
Monday, July 17, 2017

Numerous studies have shown that a practice as simple as turning on your headlights whenever you are driving may reduce your chances of being in an accident. While car manufacturers are beginning to produce more vehicles with daytime running lights, this is not mandated by the government and most vehicles remain without them. Since it would take an incredibly long time to phase out all of the cars and trucks on the road today in order to replace them with vehicles that used daytime running lights, there is a debate running that the burden should instead be on drivers to run their lights at all times via the introduction of new laws.

Headlights Make Cars More Visible During the Day

Even though headlights are most effective at night and during inclement weather, research is showing that they do make vehicles more visible to other motorists during a clear day as well. While each study varies, some have noted that headlight use during the day has resulted in a reduction of accidents by up to 10%. The types of accidents which were prevented were more significant, however.

While daytime headlight usage reduced the number of two vehicle crashes by 5.7%, it also resulted in the reduction of pedestrian accidents by 12% and a 23% reduction in motorcycle accidents involving vehicles coming from the other direction. Since these types of accidents tend to result in far more serious injuries and more fatalities, this reduction rate deserves merit.

The reason for the reduction in accident rates is entirely due to increased visibility. Motorists and pedestrians are more likely to see vehicles during the day that have their headlights on than those that don’t, even though it is clear and light out.

International Studies Suggest the Need for New Laws

Numerous European countries have begun implementing laws requiring the use of daytime running lights and the data has shown a significant change in the number of accidents reported throughout the day in these countries. In Denmark, there was a reduction in left turn related incidents of over 37% while Canada reported a reduction in multiple vehicle crashes of over 11%. Denmark also saw a reduction in multiple vehicle accidents.

In the United States, automakers are not required to produce vehicles with daytime running lights and drivers are not required to use their headlights unless it is dark or they are driving during inclement weather. Only 27% of the vehicles being produced today come with this technology as a standard feature, so the easiest way to encourage the use of headlights at all times would be through the creation of laws.

The Financial Cost of Running Headlights at all Times

Those who have any concerns over the economic impact of requiring drivers to use their headlights at all times would be relieved to learn of the results from a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Taking into account the cost of replacing headlamps more frequently and the impact on fuel efficiency, it would only cost drivers about $3-$40 per year depending on the type of headlamps their vehicles were equipped with.

This is an extremely low cost when weighing the impact on crash, injury and fatality rates.

Education on this issue is critical, as most drivers are not aware of the connection between daytime headlight usage and the number of accidents prevented. If they were aware of the benefits and low cost to this practice, more of them would be sure to use their headlamps voluntarily in order to make themselves more visible and to prevent catastrophic accidents from occurring.


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