Daytime Running Lights

After printing the article in the last NEWS about daytime running lights, we received several letters reflecting varying opinions about DRL's. We have decided to run those letters separate from "Members Write."

Regarding the daytime running lights (DRL) fiasco. This further "dumbing down" of the motorists has been hanging around ever since Kennedy's "Whiz Kids" bastardized the idea from a Greyhound bus advertising gimmick. Big Brother keeps overlooking the fact that such a stupid scheme renders motorcycles invisible while lowering the visibility of all emergency vehicles,in addition to all the negatives you mentioned. One conveniently overlooked matter is that much of the area that does subscribe to this lunacy is located in far northern areas where days are shorter anyway. Notice the Italians (who really love good cars and good driving) have outlawed such practice. We should follow suit. I remember seeing a doctor whizzing through Modena with the headlights blazing on his Alfa Romeo while on his way to the hospital. If headlights meant safety, no one would get hit by a train!

A suggestion: Any person buying or leasing a 1995 GM car, after making his best deal, demand the dealer remove the DRL feature,at the dealer's expense,prior to accepting the vehicle. This might get GM's attention, as well as promoting sanity in our autos. Believe it or not, manufacturers do listen to customers,at least Ford does!

Richard H. Irish
Edmond OK

I just finished reading the "Lights On" article. It makes a good case that the disadvantages of DRL's far outweigh the advantages. I personally find them very annoying. It seems to be another political "feel good" thing that the public will have to pay for.

What appalled me however was NMA's casual comment that "we can only watch the story unfold"! Should we sit back and watch more wasteful and unnecessary legislation be passed! I submit now is the time to fight it or at least poll association members so we can establish an official position. Sitting back got us the 55 mph speed limit when there was no NMA.

Anthony M. Brucia
Mineola NY

Editors Note: As was stated elsewhere, individual consumers can complain to General Motors, but there is no government proposal to mandate DRL's. An unlikely option exists where NMA would request laws prohibiting the use of DRL's. It's doubtful that our members would support a blanket prohibition or that such an effort would be successful.

I am a great believer in the use of headlights in the daytime, and have been doing so myself for almost twenty-five years. I am a high-mileage driver, averaging between 60,000 and 100,000 miles per year for more than twenty years, and have never been involved in a crash. Safety is a top priority of mine.

In any crash, one or more drivers will say something to the effect of "I didn't see him coming," or "He came out of nowhere." NOTHING comes from out of nowhere. In any condition, headlights simply make a vehicle more noticeable from a greater distance.

I don't find any "debate" over the benefits of DRL's other than the SIZE of the benefit: somewhere between 10 and 30 percent fewer daylight crashes, although I personally believe it to be in the 10 to 12 percent range. It is difficult to generate precise numbers on the subject. You do not have a clear-cut situation of being able to compare all vehicles with lights off and all vehicles with lights on.

I have been advocating modifications to state laws which prohibit DRL installation. I have also suggested to government officials that they should require DRL's and ELIMINATE the National Maximum Speed Limit, as the trade would show a much greater safety benefit than arbitrary 55/65 speed limits. Frankly, I would hope that NMA would advocate the adoption of mandatory DRL's, or at least educate its members about the documented benefits of daytime headlight use, and encourage it as good, safe driving. As far as DRL's as a "source of irritation and causative factor in certain kinds of accidents," I really don't know what you could possibly mean. Daytime lights are considerably less of an "irritant" than lights at night, and I would think that a "distorted estimate" of an approaching vehicle is more desirable than NOT SEEING the vehicle.

Michael Vieira
Loma Linda CA

Regarding lights in the daytime, write GM. I did. They passed it off as a "safety" measure. No experienced driver would tell you that shining lights into others eyes improves driving efficiency and safety. Write your politicians and tell them that you would be glad to shine a flashlight into their eyes to see how much it improves their driving safety. It is not likely that you will ever get highway safety from a politician . . . highway engineers, yes, but not legislators.

Walter M. Buescher
Pigeon Forge TN

Source: November/December 1994 NMA News

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