Breakdown assistance firm says lights are as much use for being seen as being able to see.

Drivers are being urged to check their vehicles’ lights this winter amid concerns that cars’ lighting systems are causing confusion among motorists.

Earlier this month, research from the RAC concluded that some drivers are being caught unawares by automatic headlights and front-only daytime running lights.

The organisation’s study of more than 2,000 motorists found that almost two-thirds of drivers (62 percent) have seen motorists driving with lights at the front, but not at the rear.

LED daytime running lights

And breakdown assistance firm GEM Motoring Assist thinks some drivers are depending on automatic headlights or daytime running lights to keep their car visible at all times, regardless of whether the lights are right for the conditions.

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said the new systems, which were designed to improve safety, could lure drivers into a false sense of security.

New rear lights

“More and more cars now have automatic lighting arrangements,” he said. “These, combined with front-only daytime running lights, mean it’s easy to assume your lights are all taken care of without your needing to do anything.

“However, daytime running lights alone are not sufficient to make you properly visible to oncoming traffic and other road users, especially in foggy or wet conditions. What’s more, you are likely to be displaying no rear lighting whatsoever.”

Winter Driving

Worth’s advice to drivers is to familiarise themselves with their car’s lighting systems to understand their uses and limitations. For example, drivers should know whether their vehicle has daytime running lights and whether these lights illuminate at the rear.

Worth also suggests learning where your fog light controls are located and how they work, making life easier when the weather closes in and visibility is reduced to less than 100 metres.

Closeup of bright red brake lights in traffic at night

Other advice included regular checks of all lights, including headlights, brake lights and reversing lights, as well as indicators and other lights, such as those that illuminate the number plate.

Finally, Worth reminded drivers that vehicle lights are as much about being seen as being able to see, so lights should be use to give other motorists the “maximum benefit”.

Audi LED daytime running lights

If in doubt, Worth recommended using dipped headlights at all times - particularly at this time of year, when nights are long and days are short.

“Drivers tend not to crash into things they can see,” he said. “That’s why taking proactive control of the lights you use is a good way to increase your safety and reduce your risk on winter journeys.”