VIEWPOINT - Daytime Running Lights

image of man orating from a soapboxDaytime running lights have been mandatory for vehicles in Canada since 1990. It appears many drivers and vehicle dealers are not aware of this requirement. Having driven thousands of kilometres over the last 40 years I know that DRL can help prevent accidents particularly on poor light and rainy conditions.

There appears to be 0 enforcement of this law that can result in a $2000 federal fine. One senior police officer I questioned about the lack of enforcement stated that since the resulting fines would not go back to the community there is little incentive to pursue the issue. I notice about 3-5 % of vehicles I see daily do not comply, particularly European imports and dodge trucks.

image asking if daytime running lights are compulsory

If the government felt it was important enough to pass this law it should be worth enforcing. Perhaps an awareness campaign could save a few lives and reduce accidents.

Provincial Rules for Daytime Running Lights

The federal government mandates how vehicles must be built and the provincial governments are left to regulate how those vehicles must continue to conform to the federal rules.

BC drivers who drive without daytime running lights would be charged under the provincial rules in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations:

General lighting requirements

4.02(2) A vehicle on a highway must be equipped with lamps equivalent to those provided by the original manufacturer in accordance with the requirements that applied under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada), or a predecessor to that Act, at the time of vehicle manufacture.


The penalty for failure to comply may involve being issued a violation ticket with a ticketed amount of $109.

Daytime Running Lights Prevent Collisions

The whole point of DRL is as you say, to prevent collisions, and studies have shown that they do this. I have also seen the opinion expressed that vehicles without them will be a greater risk of not being seen than they would be in a world without DRL.

Zero Enforcement is Untrue

Zero enforcement? Not so, speaking from my own point of view. I used to do it.

Traffic Fine Redistribution

Your officer friend is incorrect. Penalties from this, like any other traffic ticket, are currently redistributed to the communities by the provincial government.

Imports must have DRL installed before they can be licensed in BC.

Regardless of the law, people will do what they want to in some cases. Reasons that I have heard for disconnection of DRL ranged from "I don't like them" to "They cost more fuel to run and I don't want to pollute."

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I have an 1988 Ford F-150.  It did not come with daytime running lights.  Am I still required to run with some sort of lighting, like park lamps?  I don't think headlamps are necessary. 

Further comment. Some vehicles have too much candle power in their headlights.  Eg.  HID lights. Especially the after market type installed on older vehicles.  Some vehicles have four of these lights in the daytime.  A little overkill?  They are also very irritating to the eyes when approaching a vehicle with them.  Years ago we would have been pulled over by police if we had bright lights like that.  They are absolutely unnecessary and sure as hell not needed for daytime running lights.  Why hasn't the Motor Vehicle Branch  or Dept. of Transport not acted on this?  I know if I was employed in one of those departments, I would be raising the issue.  Why aren' the police doing something about it?  Some older  commercial trucks and sem-trailer tractors have them and they are blinding.   Get some regulation on these lights.  I'm sorry, but I have to flash my lights on high beam when approaching a vehicle to let them know their lights are too bright. I know it's illegall to flash your high beam on an oncoming vehicle.  If I ever get ticketed on this, I will challange it in court.  What is in the motor vehicle act now concerning headlights of this type on vehicles?  Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Yes, I don't mind using DRL, but why do we need this LED-HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights during the daytime. That should be totally illegal. They are worse than getting sunlight reflection off a front or rear window of a vehicle. Are there no dimmer switches on these newer vehicles with those lights?  Mined you the new generation likely wouldn't know what a dimmer switch is.   At one time if we did not dim our headlights for oncoming traffic we could be fined if seen by a police officer.  Sometimes with these LED-HID all you see is glaring lights and you don't know what's behind them.  4 DRL lights on one vehicle is too much and should be illegal.  Any vehicles pre 1989-1990  that do not have DRL and are not required to use their lights.  For any DRL amber lights seem to show best and not blinding to oncoming drivers and can still be seen from a long distance away.

Further, I think it would be a good idea for  government to bring back vehicle testing stations for all motor vehicles and have the owners get their faulted vehicles repaired or off the road. 

I would be interested to see a vehicle with LED headlights to compare them to HID and conventional. From what I have read, there are significant improvements using them as the light can be directed more effectively than with the other two.

Even after being written about and discussed many people get in their vehicles, start the engine and seeing headlights come, just drive away. Many do not know the taillights are not on. I told a woman one time that she had no taillights and she swore she did because her headlights were on. She got out of her car and looked. I told her she had to switch her headlights on to illuminate the rears. She did not know there is a headlight switch! Half the cars I encounter in the early morning have tail lights.

I like the daytime running lights but… what I have found being a bus driver is the amount of people not realizing that it is only the headlights that are on.  Unless the drivers put the light switch into “Automatic mode” or manually turning on the lights at night the tail lights are not on, also the headlights are on reduced lumination and high beam not available and what should be the first clue no dash lights. Too many times dark night in fog and suddenly coming up on a vehicle with no taillights. Having talked to some they are totally oblivious and look at me as being stupid as they point at the headlights saying my (their) lights are on.  Maybe ICBC should do some commercials pointing this out as they obviously don’t read their car manuals. 

So happy that other drivers are noticing the vehicles that do not light up. The irony here is that the vehicles that don't light up get my attention. I am programmed to be leary of those that are travelling dark, deleted, damaged; the same as those that do not signal, drive in the middle lane too long, that have little windows of windshield under copious or scant snow. Most noted are not Euro cars, but Toyota, Dodge and other GM, Pontiacs. I don't think the DRL goes far enough, some Euro cars light up all corners when the ignition is on. That would be good for all, especially in low light or Fog conditions and the lazy or careless drivers casually/forgetfully operating in stealth mode. There is no need to have one half lit and the back half dark. My 1990 Volvo has all corners on as soon as the key is turned; plus an extra Fog switch set up for the rear illumination. One further comment: that is the variety of lights now that seem totally silly in whacky configurations and light quality, and as others have posited way too many turned on inappropriately, especially the recent trend of pedestrian killers with raised front ends: SUVs, Ford and well, all new pick ups.