traffic in jerusalem_521.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Conspicuity and visibility are the name of the game when you are out to prevent
That is why since 1996, turning on your headlights during
winter months has been required by law.
Yesterday, Thursday, November 1,
the winter months officially began and all drivers are now required to turn on
headlights when driving on inter-city roads. Bus drivers, taxi drivers and truck
drivers must keep their headlights on city roads as well as inter-city
As in previous years, the requirement will remain in effect
through March 31. Motorcyclists are required to keep their lights on all year
The prospect of a NIS 100 fine and accumulating two points on
one’s driving record – which can raise insurance premiums and bring drivers
closer to having their license suspended – is reason enough to turn on lights
during the day.
But drivers should also understand that turning on lights
during the winter months saves lives. This message is particularly pertinent as
the nation prepares to honor the 31,544 Israelis killed in road accidents since
the establishment of the state. The annual remembrance ceremony for victims of
road accidents will take place Monday in Ramat Gan.
Dozens of studies of
what is called in the road safety jargon “daytime running lights,” or DRLs, have
shown that the added visibility results in fewer deaths and
Studies conducted in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark have
provided the most impressive results.
By keeping on lights during the
day, crashes involving two or more vehicles and those involving a car and either
a pedestrian or a cyclist were reduced by between 10 and 20
Studies in Canada and Hungary have also found significant
improvement in road safety thanks to DRLs.
Admittedly, in comparison to
Scandinavia and other northerly places such as Canada, where ambient light
levels are low in the winter, the impact of DRLs in places like Israel, which
tends to be sunny even in the winter, might be less
Nevertheless, a 2003 study titled “A Review of Daytime Running
Lights” conducted in Australia – which has similar winter weather conditions to
those of Israel – recommended the widespread use of DRLs, noting that “the
greatest benefits are with the more severe accidents, including head-on and
intersection crashes and collisions with pedestrians and
Critics of DRLs claim that keeping lights on during the day is
an unnecessary waste of energy, particularly since this means tail lamps (which
have not been found to reduce accidents during the day) are needlessly
illuminated. Also, unless the DRLs are especially equipped for daytime driving,
they tend to be less effective since most light is directed at the road. And
keeping your lights on during the day might result in the increased frequency of
burnt bulbs, which in turn might increase the number of vehicles on the road
with only one headlight working.
The ideal solution would be to adopt EU
standards, which, starting in February 2011, will require all new passenger cars
and small delivery vans to come equipped with DRLs designed specifically for
daytime use. These DRLs are directed not at the road but at other vehicles and
pedestrians. And taillights remain off. As a result, they use less wattage to
attain the same visibility as the conventional headlight.
This makes them
more energy efficient than simply turning your old headlights on, and less
likely to cause glare. In Europe the preferred bulb for DRLs is LED, which can
provide an appropriate amount of light without significantly increasing fuel
consumption and emissions.
Since most cars imported to Israel come from
Europe, it would be relatively easy to adopt EU standards and ensure that all
new cars are equipped with these DRLs.
But this would not provide a
solution for the cars already on the road. Under the circumstances, turning on
yours lights during the day is the best solution.
Doing so might increase
transportation costs slightly – Transport Canada estimated an annual cost for
fuel and changing bulbs of $40 – but if even one life is saved as a result, it
will have been worth it.