Europe's cars switch to daytime lights to boost safety

New cars and small vans rolling out of European factories as from Monday will be equipped with automatic daytime lights in a new bid to raise road safety.

So-called Daytime Running Lights (DRL), that automatically switch on when the engine starts, are expected to increase road safety as they raise the visibility of vehicles for other road users, the European Commission said.

New trucks and buses will be equipped with the daytime lights in August 2012.

With 100 people killed a day on Europe's roads in 2009, the European Union is multiplying efforts to rein in reckless drivers, harshen penalties and introduce hi-tech systems to save lives.

The commission said road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, detected vehicles using DRL more clearly and quickly than those equipped with dipped beam headlights.

DRL lights, said industry commissioner Antonio Tajani, would not only help reduce casualties but also contribute to environmental protection "as the lower energy consumption rates will reduce CO2 emissions compared to normal lights."

In other recent road safety moves, the EU is working on ways of tracking reckless drivers across the borders of the 27-nation bloc.

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