Daytime Running Lights or DRLs and classic car lighting

I am researching these topics for an article and would welcome your views. See the DRL thread on the V8BB.
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Posted: 140815

DRLs and classic car lighting
Since February 2011 Daytime Running Lights or DRLs have been introduced on all new cars in the European market and are becoming an increasing feature in our rear view mirrors. The reason put forward for the introduction of DRLs is "to increase the visual contrast between vehicles and their background so that the presence of a vehicle is made more obvious to other road users". Studies that have been carried out by the bodies promoting DRLs claim that DRLs will make a difference to certain types of accident. Other groups feel they increase visual glare and tend to mask other road users, particularly motor cycles.
Are DRLs also becoming a fashion or car styling item?
Far from being considered primarily a 'safety feature', many car manufacturers and the motoring press are treating DRLs as a 'stylish addition' to a car, concentrating on the look of DRLs as adding character to a car rather than contributing to its safety. So with brands like Audi the DRLs take on the form of "surprised eyebrows" in your rear view mirror conveying a degree of assertiveness which some drivers feel uncomfortable with reminding them of that classic BMW advert from the early 70s with a BMW in the rear view mirror and the strapline below - "move over!".


Are DRLs too bright?

Some groups that have commented on DRLs are particularly worried that the European standards that have been introduced are too powerful for our normal use and that the lights on current cars, particularly new cars, are now far too bright to be safe. The regulations (ECE Regulation 87, Revision 2: Daytime running lamps) are clear in terms of the specification of the light (brightness and angles, construction and approval) and the use (to make the vehicle more easily visible when driving during daytime). The standard stipulates that the direction of these lights is to be fixed to point directly in front of the vehicle unlike dipped headlights that are aimed so as not to dazzle the oncoming driver. Now consider that the light levels specified for DRLs are between 400cd and a maximum of 1200cd. To give a comparative reference level for this amount of light, dipped headlights are typically around 800cd - and these are by law aimed down and away from oncoming traffic. Therefore, with current legislation, DRLs can actually be brighter than dipped headlights but without the beam pattern that prevents dipped headlights from dazzling oncoming road users.


Comparative lighting standards are the key issue

When you are on the road as a driver, or indeed as a pedestrian, to be able to see cars ahead, behind and to the side of you is essentially an exercise where the eye scans the scene and identifies vehicles, motor bikes, cycles and pedestrians. With a generally even standard of identification in terms of lighting, the whole range of vehicles can be easily seen but once a group of vehicles has significantly brighter lighting they, on a comparative basis, tend to attract your eye more and the contrast between the brighter daytime lighting and the lower illumination standards of earlier cars - and in many cases that will mean no illumination in daytime driving conditions - becomes so great.

Classic car lighting

Many owners of classic cars built in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and even the 90s in the case of the RV8, have relatively modest lighting as the original equipment. So most owners of MGBs and MGBGTV8s have binned the sealed beams and gone for a set of lenses and halogen bulbs which has transformed the headlights from candle power to near modern standards of auto lighting. But often the original rear lights are woefully at a low level of illumination when compared with modern rear lights. So whilst a headlight upgrade is mainly to aid forward vision at night the essential concern which is increasingly a matter classic car enthusiasts will have to consider is the relative lighting standards because that is a major factor in visibility - or the dreadful term conspicuity is sometimes used - on the road.

What do fellow members feel about the introduction of DRLs, the growing trend for assertive styles of DRLs on some new models and the comparative visibility of a classic car in this growing new situation with far brighter lighting in both day and night conditions? What lighting upgrades for a classic car like and MGBGTV8 and RV8 do fellow members feel are necessary or will halogen front headlight upgrades, possibly LED tail light upgrades together with the use of dipped headlights as DRLs become the norm? I am researching these topics for an article and would welcome your views.
V8 Register - MG Car Club - the leading group for MG V8 enthusiasts at www.v8register.net