New standards on car lights
Car lights off – When you start your car, the daytime running lights (DRL) automatically light up in front – at least since December of 1989 when it became mandatory for all new cars sold. But are you aware your daytime rear and side lights do not necessarily come on with a turn of the ignition key? If you aren’t, you should be. It can pose a danger during the day, especially in bad weather like pouring rain or fog – but even more so during early evening and morning light before the sun has completely risen.
Before the automatic lighting systems, one not only had to turn on their headlights manually, but the dashboard lights as well, which was a clear indication that all the lights were on.
Now, because the dashboard lights come on automatically, many assume the full lighting system is on with the DRL’s – but you might be getting left in the dark and making yourself almost invisible to other drivers on the road. Some cars have an ‘auto’ position on the lighting switch or indicator stick – and as long as it remains in that position, your rear lights should also come on.
At night, the system detects when it’s dark and your full headlights automatically come on, directing a beam forward and down towards the road – and the rear red lights should also come on with it.
If you are unsure, take the time to check it out. Start your car and see what lights up by getting out of the car and checking or having someone else verify what is on or off in the front and back of your vehicle. If you are stopped safely in front of a store window, you might also be able to check the lights in the reflection.
Still confused? Try turning the switch from ‘auto’ to ‘lights on’ or other positions to see if there is a difference. Or you could just stop by your dealer or garage and have them check it out for you.
Transport Canada, according to CBC News (from a memo they obtained under the Access to Information Act) is planning to set new standards for auto manufacturers sometime this autumn, which will address these issues and require new lighting systems in vehicles by 2020.
In the meantime, it is certainly worth the effort to verify your system, especially when your life and the life of others is at stake. It is important to realize not only how well you can see the road, but how well your car is seen by other drivers.