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You might find daytime running lights on the long list of features you’ll read about when researching a new vehicle. Although some may already know, it isn’t completely obvious what they do. As a result, you might have questions about what DRLs do and why you would need them. Why do you need daytime running lights, and what are they?

What are daytime running lights?

2022 Infiniti QX55 front view. Do you need daytime running lights? What are daytime running lights? What is the purpose of DRLs?
2022 Infiniti QX55 front view | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Most new cars, trucks, and SUVs sold in the United States come with daytime running lights. As a result, if you bought a new car in recent years, you might have them without even knowing. However, that doesn’t explain their purpose. According to KBB, they’re sometimes called “signature lights.” Furthermore, features like these aren’t included with every vehicle for no reason.

Daytime running lights are low-wattage white lights that automatically activate when the vehicle’s ignition is turned on. Usually, they’re located around the headlights on the car’s front side. They’re not very bright, but they’re not super dim either. KBB describes them as the baby bear of lights, somewhere between parking lights and low-beam headlights. Although they’re not too noticeable, DRLs serve an essential purpose.

What is the purpose?

The Toyota Avalon Hybrid. Do you need daytime running lights? What are daytime running lights? What is the purpose of DRLs?
2022 Toyota Avalon | Toyota

Why do you need daytime running lights? It seems like a strange feature to add to every car that already has regular headlights. What’s the purpose of a more dim, less noticeable light that illuminates every time the car is on? The purpose is simple: to make your vehicle more visible to other cars and pedestrians as it approaches. While headlights and foglights point slightly downward, daytime running lights point straight forward.

As a result, it’s easier for other people to see your car coming, even during the day. When the sun is shining bright in the afternoon, there isn’t much of a reason for them. However, they’re vital for safety reasons during other times like a cloudy day, dusk, or other slightly darker times. In countries and areas where days are shorter and darkness approaches quickly, they’re even more critical.

Why do you need daytime running lights?

There are several benefits to having daytime running lights on your vehicle. First, statistically speaking, KBB says there is some evidence that the government should mandate DRLs. However, the government says there isn’t enough evidence, but automakers include them anyway.

“A 2010 publication from the Minnesota Department of Transportation stated that DRLs reduced the number of daytime crashes from 5% to 10%. A 2008 study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) placed the accident reduction with DRLs at 5.7% for light trucks and vans.”

Kelley Blue Book

Next, DRLs are essential when actual headlights aren’t necessary, but extra light is helpful. For example, when it first starts getting dark and the sky is a bit overcast, headlights could be too much. However, the dim light of DRLs is the perfect amount to illuminate oncoming traffic. In addition, some insurance companies offer discounts to vehicle owners with DRLs because they’re safer than vehicles without.

Finally, daytime running lights are a great asset to the front fascia design of many vehicles. Automakers embrace the extra lights, making the front of many vehicles look cooler. KBB says they make many cars look more technologically advanced.

Are DRLs really necessary?

In conclusion, daytime running lights are necessary for vehicles. Many low-light accidents are likely prevented because the front of a car is illuminated. However, as KBB said, we don’t think it’s worth installing aftermarket ones on your vehicle.


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