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Daytime running lights save lives and reduce accidents

Georgia law requires motorists to turn on their headlamps between sunrise and sunset and when visibility is reduced to less than 500 feet. However, traffic safety research indicates that drivers in the Peach State would be wise to keep their lights on even during the daylight hours. The number of multi-vehicle crashes dropped by 11 percent in Canada following the introduction mandatory daytime running lights legislation, and Danish officials reported a 37 percent reduction in left turn accidents after a similar law was passed.

What has road safety advocates most excited about daytime running lights is the kind of crashes they are most effective at preventing. Accidents involving left-turns or head-on collisions often result in catastrophic injuries, and they are often caused by drivers or pedestrians who did not notice an oncoming vehicle. Daytime running lights also protect the most vulnerable road users. Studies have found that they reduce certain motorcycle crashes by 23 percent and pedestrian accidents by 12 percent.

However, only 27 percent of the passenger vehicles currently on sale in the United States are fitted with daytime running lights as standard equipment. Experts believe that any legislative efforts taken by Congress to address this issue will be aimed at automobile manufacturers rather than drivers. In the meantime, road safety groups urge motorists to switch on their headlights even if it is light and clear out.

In addition to possibly preventing injuries or deaths, using daytime running lights could make it more difficult for the defendants in car accident lawsuits to claim contributory or comparative negligence. When it can be established that the plaintiff in such a case acted negligently by not fastening their seat belt, failing to properly maintain their vehicle or switching off their automobile's safety features, the amount of damages they are awarded may be reduced.

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