Here’s a situation that I’m sure we’ve all experienced: You’re driving at night and come up on a car that is bafflingly driving with just its daytime running lights on. You pull up and notice the dashboard lit up, and the driver going about their business, unaware that their lights aren’t actually on. Canada thinks it has just the solution for this.
It’s not always easy for some drivers to tell if their headlights are on. Many models have bright daytime running lights. Couple that with an always illuminated instrument cluster that may only have a tiny indicator for the headlights, and you have a recipe for people driving around without their lights on.
Canada mandated what looks to be an easy solution to this back in September 2021. Somehow, this flew under our radar. From Transport Canada (emphasis mine):
As of September 2021 the Canadian Vehicle Lighting Regulation will require that all new vehicles sold in Canada have one of the following:
- tail lights that come on automatically with daytime running lights
- headlights, tail lights, and side marker lights that turn on automatically in the dark
- a dashboard that stays dark to alert the driver to turn on the lights
This standard will apply to all new vehicles (cars, trucks, SUVs, 3-wheeled vehicles, motorcycles and heavy trucks).
Basically, new cars have to be able to light themselves up at night, or at the very least present a driver with a darkened dashboard. It’s sort of amazing that you can still buy a new car without automatic headlights, anyway.
There doesn’t appear to be any solid data about how many crashes are caused by cars driving without their headlights on. That said, AAA notes that 50 percent of crashes happen at night, and being able to see and be seen are critical to nighttime safety.
Sadly, this won’t do much for people who bought cars before the mandate and are driving around without headlights on. It also won’t do anything for the strange drivers that you may occasionally see driving without headlights and with a dark dash.
Transport Canada also offers a few caveats, and one of them is that automatic headlights only work when they’re set to automatic.
One solution for that would be for automakers to set the automatic function to be the default. That’s how the headlights were in the 2003 GMC Envoy XL that I learned to drive in. If you wanted those headlights off, you had to turn them off every time you started the SUV. Enthusiasts hated it, but I never saw anyone in my family driving it without headlights on.
Still, it’s a step in the right direction, and hopefully it’ll stop at least some drivers from going around without headlights on.