European Commission plans for daytime lights on motor vehicles

Idea opposed by cycling groups

European Commission plans for all new vehicles to have daytime running lights have sparked opposition from cyclist groups.

The proposed legislation would require all new vehicles to be equipped with lamps which automatically switch on when they move forwards, whatever the time of day.

It would apply to all new cars and small vans from 2011 and larger vehicles, such as lorries and buses, from 2012.

The European Twowheel Retailers Association says the move could prove harmful to cyclists and the European Cyclists’ Federation has warned that if the proposals go ahead, vulnerable road users will have to watch out for cars rather than the other way round.

Both organisations say there is no reliable evidence that daytime running lights would benefit cyclists.

The European Commission lists the chief causes of road deaths as speeding, alcohol and drugs, fatigue and non-wearing of seatbelts and helmets.

Bernhard Ensink, of the European Cyclists’ Federation, said: "To us it is not logical that the Commission shows great interest in harmonising legislation on daytime running lights but does not see any need for harmonising, for instance, speed limits or blood alcohol limits.

“If the European Commission wants to bring down the number of deaths on EU roads from the current 43,000 per year to 25,000 by 2010, it needs to target the real problems", 

British cycling organisation the CTC has in the past campaigned against similar plans from the Commission on the grounds that headlights cause ‘visual darkening’ in the area around them, masking cyclists and pedestrians. It argues that drivers become increasingly accustomed to the habit of looking for lights, rather than people or vehicles.

The proposals have yet to be approved by European ministers and the European Parliament.

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