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What are Daytime Running Lights and Why do You Need Them

May 13, 2024
Daytime Running Lights

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Do you wonder, “What are those bright lights on the vehicles and why?” Referred to as DRLs (Daytime Running Lights or Lamps), these are small, energy-efficient front lights. They make your vehicle look prominent for others to help avoid accidents without illuminating the road ahead (unlike headlights) during the daytime.

Are you interested in learning more about DRLs and their style, types, and benefits? This article is for you. Here, you’ll learn about DRL lights, their research-backed benefits, and negligible drawbacks–yes, this piece of information is authentic; large-scale studies back it up!

Let’s know about DRLs without further ado!

What are Daytime Running Lights? 

 Daytime Running Lights

Daytime Running Lights or daytime running lamps are low-voltage safety lights mounted on your vehicle’s front to enhance its visibility for other road users during the daytime’s low light or low visibility hours. Their lower intensity, as compared with headlights and foglights, makes your car more spottable for everyone in dim times of the day, like dawn, dusk, rain, and fog, leading to reduced accident risks. Unlike headlights, they also add to the vehicle’s aesthetic appeal. These lights automatically turn on as the car engine starts.

They’re called “lamps” owing to their dimness as compared with other lights on the vehicle. These lights can be installed near the headlights or fog lights on a car’s front. They’re available in different designs to meet the car’s model/design requirements, like:

  • Strip DRLs are like thin LED DRLs, curved, straight, or with multiple segments running along the bottom or top of the headlight housing. 
  • C-shaped DRLs house around the headlight, creating a distinctive look. Some vehicle brands use them as their signature design element.
  • U-shaped DRLs form a complete U around the headlight.
  • Wing or Blade DRLs are sharp and pointed DRLs on either side of the headlight cluster. They cast a sporty or aggressive impression.
  • Dot DRLs form a cluster or pattern near the headlights with multiple small dot-like LED lights arranged. They offer a more modern and unique look.
  • Integrated DRLs are built into the headlight assembly itself. They mostly function through power control settings in the vehicle.

Why are Daytime Running Lights Important?

Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) on your vehicle provide many surprising benefits for both you and other drivers on the road. A study by Marjan P Hagenzieker (at Delft University of Technology) confirms the benefits of using DRLs in vehicles. These include:

1. Enhanced Visibility

DRL’s strategic positioning near your vehicle’s headlights makes them grab other drivers’ and pedestrians’ distanced attention from various angles. Resultantly, road users can spot your car or vehicle quicker, react faster, and avoid accidents in unfavorable situations. This especially helps them in low light conditions like dawn, dusk, rain, or fog, when seeing clearly might be tricky. 

2. Legal Compliance

The use of Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) ensures local law compliance if required, in a particular region. In many areas, the traffic laws demand drivers turn their lights on during low-light conditions, like rain or fog. If you do this by turning on the headlights manually, chances are you might forget to do this sometimes. This may potentially get you a ticket and also affect your profile as a citizen. Here, the auto-turning feature of DRLs not only saves you from law violations but also accidents by keeping everyone safe on the road.

3. Reduced Energy Consumption

Without DRLs, the drivers may have to keep the headlights turned on to aid vehicles’ visibility during dim daylight hours. Conversely, Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), despite remaining tuned on, use less energy than headlights, as with traditional halogen bulbs. Thus, they help your car save on fuel and reduce its environmental impact while staying safe.

4. Aesthetic and Design Advantages

DRLs help your vehicle look more attractive and modern

Besides offering functional benefits, the DRLs help your vehicle look more attractive and modern. They come in many impressive styles, like sleek lines, curves, or even shapes like wings to suit your vehicle’s exterior. They add a modern touch to your car’s design, making it look even sharper.

Thus, despite looking fancy, DRLs primarily serve everyone on the road with their safety features. They improve the vehicle’s visibility and others’ reaction times, leading to reduced accident risks — they also add a touch of style to your car.

Types of Daytime Running Lights 

Automotive manufacturers make different Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), whether combined with the other front lights or dedicated. 

You can find 5 types of DRLs’ functioning lights:

1. Low-Beam Headlights

Some cars use their low-beam headlights as DRLs but at a lower power setting. Their lower power setting makes them dimmer than regular headlights yet still bright enough to be seen during the day.

2. Dimmed High-Beam Headlights

Daytime Running Lights 

Similar to low beams, some vehicles use their high beam headlights on a super low setting for DRLs purposes. Again, their lower power setting makes them stand out in less clear surroundings without making them as intensely bright as regular high beams are.

3. Yellow Turn Signals

Although less common, some vehicles use their turn signals as DRLs but with a brighter yellow light. It adds a bit of color to the car’s front.

4. Dedicated Lights

The most common type of DRL in new vehicles is a special light dedicatedly designed to aid the road visibility of a vehicle. These lights come as small halogen bulbs, LED bulbs, or strips placed near the headlights bulbs or fog lights. They’re most commonly found in today’s vehicles and cars, including luxury cars and sports cars, to abide by regulations in many regions. However, they’re hard to find in old-day cars or vehicles. To know whether a vehicle has them, you can check their manufacturers’ websites or reviews.

Daytime Running Lights 

5. Fog Lights (Not Recommended)

Although less common, some cars also use fog lights as DRLs. However, they don’t make the best choice because fog lights are particularly meant for foggy or snowy conditions (dimmer than headlights but brighter than DRLs). So, using them all the time can be confusing to other drivers owing to their extra glare.

Among all the types discussed above, dedicated DRLs are the best ones. It’s because they have engineered brightness, lower than headlights and fog lights but brighter enough to be noticeable. Plus, they use less energy than other options, making them fuel-efficient.  

What are Different DRL Technologies?

For creating Daytime Running Lights, manufacturers primarily use 2 technologies:

1. LED (Light Emitting Diode)


These are fantastically energy-efficient tiny light bulb clusters. These bulbs are semiconductor devices that emit light when current passes through them. They use about 90% less energy than other options but produce brighter light in many colors. The combo of energy efficiency and higher intensity of these lights make them suitable for creating different shapes and styles for DRLs.

2. Halogen

Older but cheaper, halogen lights comprise thin filaments which get hot through an electric current and glow to make light. They’re not as energy-efficient as LEDs and don’t last longer. But they’re still pretty bright and are generally less expensive.

Apart from these 2 common options, some DRLs are Xenon. These DRLs use special gas that glows really bright when electricity passes through them. They look pretty stylish but fall under the most expensive options and might not be legal for use as DRLs in all areas.

Overall, utilizing the best DRL technology depends on the car manufacturer’s choices and budget goals. But DRLs must be bright enough to see during the day and keep everyone safe on the road!

When Should You Use Daytime Running Lights?

Daytime Running Lights

Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), with their inbuilt automatic turning on/off feature, help other drivers and pedestrians to see you on the road under the following conditions:

  • During the entire day, when it’s fully bright or dim, like dawn or dusk;
  • In all weather conditions, whether sunny, rainy, foggy, or snowy.

Hence, DRLs are like an essential safety feature that’s always working in the background to keep you and others safe on the road.


1. Do daytime running lights make my car use more fuel?

No! DRLs, whether LED or Halogen, use little energy. So they don’t affect your fuel mileage negatively.

2. What cars have daytime running lights?

Most modern-day cars come with built-in DRLs, as local regulations in many regions require vehicles to have them! However, if your car is a bit older, it might not have them.

3. Are there any disadvantages to daytime running lights?

Yes. Daytime running lights (DRLs), just like any other safety feature, come with a few drawbacks, such as:

  • DRLs, despite being dimmer than headlights, still create a glare for drivers coming the other way.
  • Vehicles equipped with DRLs reduce (undermine) the visibility of other cars that don’t have DRLs.
  • Some studies suggest that DRLs on motorcycles might make them less visible around cars using DRLs.

However, the safety benefits of DRLs outweigh these minor downsides. They remain a must-have safety feature in your vehicle.


Fuel-efficient and bright, Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) ensure road safety for everyone. They make your vehicle much easier to notice during daytime’s low light, like dawn, dusk, rain, or fog, helping other vehicles’ drivers and pedestrians react faster and avoid accidents.

However, on petty downsides, they reduce the prominence of other non-DRL-bearing vehicles. Likewise, the larger vehicles equipped with DRLs also outshine other smaller vehicles, making them appear dull despite having DRLs (motorcycles are an example of this).

Does it mean you shouldn’t use DRLs in your car or vehicle? No, their pros outweigh their nugatory cons. They make one of the best road safety measures for you, your vehicle, and those around you.

Enhance Your Nighttime Driving Experience with Carlightvision LED Headlights

While Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) play a crucial role in improving safety during daylight, high-performance lighting is essential for night driving. Opt for Carlightvision‘s LED headlights to make your vehicle stand out and ensure optimal visibility at night.

As a leading manufacturer of car lights in China since 2008, we are committed to providing high-quality and affordable LED lighting solutions. Trust our team of experts to improve your nighttime driving experience. Contact us now to learn more about our LED headlights!


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Hey there, I'm Mark Yang, Hope my blog posts can help you. I have been in the car light field for more than 20 years. So if you have any questions, I'm always happy to help you.
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