Radical new road rule under consideration in Victoria
A Victorian politician has proposed a new law in an attempt to reverse the state’s rising road toll – even though the latest round of draconian enforcement has failed to reduce road deaths.
A new road rule proposed for Victoria could require all vehicles – both new and existing – to be fitted with some form of daytime running lights, in an effort to combat the state’s rising road toll.
Upper House MP Nick McGowan is behind a push for the Victorian Government to require standard fitment of daytime running lights to all new cars, and the potential retrofitting of the technology to older cars – even though simply mandating headlight use during the day would be a simpler and cheaper solution.
In a motion filed to the Victorian Parliament on Thursday, Mr McGowan said: “Daytime running lights are lights that come on automatically whenever a vehicle engine is started in daylight and are automated so drivers cannot forget to have them operating.”
According to April 2023 research from the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), the use of daytime running lights (also known as DRLs in industry jargon) are believed to reduce the risk of a crash because drivers can better see oncoming vehicles, particularly on tree-lined roads covered with dappled sunlight.
The MUARC study assessed the relationship between crash risk and the fitment of daytime running lights (DRLs) and found cars with DRLs saw a 20.3 per cent reduction in crash risk during dawn or dusk.
Mr McGowan is calling for the State Government to “petition the Federal Government to ensure mandatory installation of daytime running lights for all new vehicle imports”.
Additionally, Mr McGowan wants to explore the efficacy of retrofitting to older cars systems that mimic daytime running lights.
Or regulators could simply compel motorists to drive with their headlights on during the day, saving time and money. Though this is yet to be proposed.
Most new cars are already fitted with daytime running light technology – because it is mandatory in Europe.
The proposal put forward to regulators in Victoria does not explain what would be required for the technology to be fitted to older vehicles – either using the car’s existing lighting or adding auxiliary lighting – and who would be responsible for covering the cost.
From 1 January to 1 June this year, 136 people have died on Victoria’s roads – a 40 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.
“I recognise – this by itself is not a silver bullet. But, I’m a new MP and right now Victoria’s road toll … is heartbreaking,” Mr McGowan told Drive.
“This idea of having lights – any lights – on during daylight is not new, and all the studies and research available tells us it helps reduce the risk of crashing and therefore accident and injury or death.”
Daytime Running Lights are already compulsory in other parts of the world, and have been mandated on all new cars and small delivery vans in the European Union since 2011.
Canada went a step further and, in late 2021, implemented a law that required all new vehicles sold in the country to have automatic headlights, taillights, and side lights that are activated in the dark.
This was designed to stop motorists unwittingly driving at night without their headlights on. Modern cars show instrument displays regardless of whether the headlights are activated. This is why there is an increase in cars driving blacked out at night.
“We can’t sit by and do nothing when we have clear evidence that by simply turning our lights-on we can reduce the likelihood of death or serious injury on our roads,” Mr McGowan said.
“Today, every Victoria can make a simple change – and better protect themselves and their loved ones – by turning on their car lights during the day. It’s free and easy and may just save a life.”
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