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Daytime running lights can prevent serious accidents

Texas law requires drivers to switch on their headlights during the nighttime hours or when visibility is reduced to 1,000 feet or less, but road safety studies conducted in several countries suggest that they would be wise to turn them on every time they get behind the wheel. The number of left-turn accidents plummeted by 37 percent in Denmark after a law was introduced that mandated the use of daytime running lights, and Canadian authorities reported an 11 percent fall in multi-vehicle crashes after legislators in Ottawa passed a similar bill.

Daytime running lights are especially effective at preventing head-on collisions and accidents involving pedestrians and motorcyclists. This is important because these accidents often claim lives or cause debilitating injuries. Studies have found that the added visibility provided by daytime running lights can reduce pedestrian accidents by 12 percent and some types of motorcycle accident by almost a quarter.

However, the incentive to use daytime running lights remains with drivers. Only slightly more than one in four cars currently in dealer showrooms are equipped with this potentially life-saving safety feature as standard equipment, and most road safety experts agree that laws like those introduced in Denmark and Canada are unlikely to be passed in the United States. If Congress does decide to act, advocacy groups expect any new regulations to be aimed at auto manufacturers rather than drivers.

Experienced personal injury attorneys may urge their clients to select vehicles with daytime running lights. In addition to possibly saving their lives or the lives of others, equipping their vehicle with daytime running lights could help them to withstand accusations of comparative negligence in car accident lawsuits. This is because reckless drivers may find it difficult to convince juries that they were vigilant and alert at the time of a crash if the vehicle they struck was brightly illuminated.

Source: The Texas State Legislature, "Transportation Code", accessed on Sept. 20, 2017

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