Law & Order

NHTSA Rejects Mandatory Daytime Running Lamps

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) denied a longstanding petition by General Motors that the agency mandate installation of daytime running lamps (DRLs) on all new light-duty vehicles. The NHTSA’s decision was based on study results which it found did not provide substantial evidence of an overall safety benefit, although the lighting equipment may be beneficial under certain scenarios.

The NHTSA will continue to maintain a neutral position on the technology and allow manufacturers to make individual decisions on whether to install DRLs.  

The GM petition was submitted in 2001, but the topic dates back to at least 1988 when the NHTSA rejected a similar petition. In 1993, the NHTSA allowed automakers to voluntarily install DRLs and established corresponding performance criteria to address potential glare. The decision preempted any state laws which may have inadvertently prohibited the lighting equipment.

A number of other countries require DRLs or that motorists drive with lights on during the daytime. The countries are predominantly farther north where sunlight is more limited during the winter months (ex: Canada and Scandinavian countries).

For details, contact Steve McDonald.