A presumed safety item that isn't safe - daytime running lights

V
Mazda CX-5 GT-R
A pet peeve of mine is to be driving at night only to come up on a person that doesn't have their lights on. And, I'm sure it's because they believe they have their lights on - when in fact the lighting they are seeing is that cast by their DRLs. They have no clue that the rear of the car is completely dark. Definitely an unsafe condition.

Rewind to last night as I'm leaving an adult education session I'd just attended. As I'm driving away, I get a call from one of my fellow attendees letting me know that as I drove off, my rear lights were off. Duh, I'm my own pet peeve!! Yes, I was driving with just DRLs illuminated. I quickly switched my headlights to the on position - and barely noticed a difference. Did it again - and it was hard to tell the difference between DRLs only and full on headlights. If that's the same with other makes and models of cars - no wonder so many are driving around with just DRLs at night.

I know, for those of us with AUTO headlights, we could just leave the headlights in that position. But, I have other drivers of my car and they tend to turn the switch to off. And, I'm not sure all makes/models of cars have AUTO position. But, many of them do have DRLs and some are driving around at night without proper rear illumination.
I see this too often - and it's dangerous.

So, as a way to avoid this situation, I'm highly considering disabling my DRLs so that I'll not make that mistake again. I wished there was a more obvious way to know that only DRLs are illuminated - so that drivers would know that they were under-illuminated in the evening. My prior car had DRLs and I never had the problem. Why? Because the dashboard lights were dark if you didn't have the headlights in the on position. You noticed a dark dashboard right away!! My CX-5 dash is always illuminated - so no clear way to know I'm just with DRLs. Am I missing an indicator somewhere?

So, have you folks also noticed this happening - and how often?
 
V
2014 & 2019 CX-5 Touring(s)
My prior car had DRLs and I never had the problem. Why? Because the dashboard lights were dark if you didn't have the headlights in the on position. You noticed a dark dashboard right away!! My CX-5 dash is always illuminated - so no clear way to know I'm just with DRLs. Am I missing an indicator somewhere?
The opposite is true with CX-5. The dash is full brightness with DRLs, but dims (for nighttime use) when you turn on your headlights proper. So if your dash lights are bright at night - turn on your lights!
 
V
CX-5 Sport 16.5 6M
I have seen people driving at night w/o their lights on but I never connected the behavior to DRL. Good point.

Still, I think front running lights improve visibility, especially in marginal conditions when some people are reluctant to drive with their headlights on.

Maybe a better solution would be rear running lights. They might help reduce rear end collisions, too.
 

erhayes

Contributor
V
Mazda CX-5 FWD Touring
I've complained about this for years. If they are having running light then they should include rear taillights also.
 
V
2009 Mazda CX-9 GT
Turn your lights on at night, unless you have automatic lights. Be aware of your vehicle and make sure the proper lights are on for the conditions you are driving in. Not sure when driver training told you not to turn on your headlights at night.....they didn't! Just because your dash lights are on doesn't mean jack. Tired of all this stupidity on our streets. The best part is when you flash these people, they ignore you because of their stupidity.
 
9 times out of 10, its a Nissan Rogue driving with only the LED light bars on, rest of car is fully dark.

Cannot tell you how many times I've seen this happen, almost ALWAYS a Nissan Rogue. There is something seriously messed up, either the drivers are fooled by seemingly brightness of their LED DRL's or there is no (auto) setting on their stalk.
 

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
L
Canada
V
'18 CX-9 Signature
I haven't had this issue (mistaking my DRLs for my low beams) in my CX-9 because in my trim, the DRLs are the LED "eyebrows". That said, if I had the Sport trim, I can see myself making this exact mistake, as the DRLs on that trim function the same way freeportd describes.

There is no "low beam on" indicator in the CX-9 that I'm aware of - only a "parking lights on" and a "high beam on" indicator.

All that said, as an alternative to disabling DRLs (which provide a bit of extra safety during the daytime), just check the stalk to make sure it's in the right position every time you start the car. That's the primary indicator anyway.
 

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
L
Canada
V
'18 CX-9 Signature
9 times out of 10, its a Nissan Rogue driving with only the LED light bars on, rest of car is fully dark.

Cannot tell you how many times I've seen this happen, almost ALWAYS a Nissan Rogue. There is something seriously messed up, either the drivers are fooled by seemingly brightness of their LED DRL's or there is no (auto) setting on their stalk.
Yep, I'm seeing this on Ford Escapes, Honda Civics and Accords, KIA Sportages, Hyundai Elantras.. They're all making the DRLs too bright, or using LED eyebrows that are much brighter than they need to be as DRLs. As a result, drivers don't notice that they're only running DRLs, especially in areas that are well-lit by streetlights or building signage.
 
V
2009 Mazda CX-9 GT
YES, there is an indicator light on the dash that lights up when your lights are all on.

View attachment 222474
All MFG's need to do this. My 9 does this for park lights only, or headlights. Not sure if that is the norm.

Apparently in Canada, by the end of 2020 or 2021 (can't recall exactly), all new vehicles must have DRL's that include rear lighting. This is good, but not sure why it took so long. My 1990 Civic had this.
 

Kaps

Contributor
V
CX-5 Touring 2016.5
I once drove from Dallas to Waco / Austin in my 16 CX5 without headlights, it has two positions, the first one just makes the cabin lights dimmer, turns on tail lights / dash lights / License lights and DRLs but does not turn on headlights. The 2nd position does. Btw the dash light comes on at first setting itself. Not sure why. So pcardoza that is not an indicator your headlights are on. This is for 16.5 Touring without Auto headlights.

This is a very simple car to drive but a Toyota is simpler.
 
L
North of Toronto
V
2019 CX-9 Sig
All MFG's need to do this. My 9 does this for park lights only, or headlights. Not sure if that is the norm.

Apparently in Canada, by the end of 2020 or 2021 (can't recall exactly), all new vehicles must have DRL's that include rear lighting. This is good, but not sure why it took so long. My 1990 Civic had this.
Neat. I hadn't heard that. If memory serves, Canada did the DRL first. As a kid I remember being in USA and so many drivers telling my dad he left his lights on. Drove him nuts.

(Unless he did leave his light on...but I'm pretty sure it was DRL)
 
V
2009 Mazda CX-9 GT
Neat. I hadn't heard that. If memory serves, Canada did the DRL first. As a kid I remember being in USA and so many drivers telling my dad he left his lights on. Drove him nuts.
Mandatory DRL's started in Canada in 1990. I have always disabled or bypassed them, as I am a big boy and can use my lights properly on my own. This CX-9 has proven to be the most difficult to disable, but it can and will be done.
 
V
2019 cx-5 signature. 2019 cx-3 awd touring
this also can be solved if dashboard lights remain off at night when the headlights are not on, this was how they did it back in the days before autohead lights and DRL's.
 
V
2014 Mazda3 S GT auto, 2008 MX5 6-speed
My 2014 3's dash displays a headlight symbol when the lights are on. (I have auto headlights.)
My MX5 has manual lights but I know all too well that one rotation-click turns on the parking and dash lights, and two rotation-clicks turns on the headlights. It's very simple.
 

Ronzuki

South Central PA
L
2018 CX5 Touring
V
w/ Pref Pkg
If that's the same with other makes and models of cars - no wonder so many are driving around with just DRLs at night.
LED equipped vehicles, yeah, hard to tell the difference. Halogen equipped vehicles, different story...you know your headlights aren't on. Unless, of course, you're one of the exponentially growing number of brain-dead idiots that are barely registering the fact they are operating a moving vehicle, and, recognize that they're not the only ones on the road...at rush hour.
Case in point: last night, all but dark, overcast evening, 6 lane highway, late model Dodge mini-van (of course), in the left lane (high speed lane), zero lights on. (y)
 
V
CX-5 Sport 16.5 6M
Yeah but the point is these new cars are deceptively lit up on the inside.

I have a motorcycle and the taillight comes on with the key. The headlight runs right off the alternator so it's on when the engine runs. That's pretty good for safety and it simplifies operation which isn't bad either.
 
V
Mazda CX-5 GT-R
Sounds like others too have noticed this behavior and recognize its dangers. Modern safety systems should make things safer - and in certain deployments, DRLs have actually made things more dangerous.

Yes, checking the headlight stalk is the right thing to do - and I typically do - but missed it this time. With the headlights already illuminated, it didn't trigger for me that my switch wasn't in AUTO mode.
In my 2005 Subaru, my headlights were on - and should I forget to turn on the lights, a simple look at the dark dashboard and I'd realized my error. That's a good safety system - providing DRLs and also a reminder should it turn dark and you need your headlights.

My point is that the additional safety provided by DRLs may be offset by the folks unaware that their headlights aren't on. Adding rear tail lights to the DRLs sounds like a step in the right direction.
 
L
Ottawa, Ontario
V
17 Mazda 6 GT
I'm Canadian, and this problem you folks are discussing is exactly why new regulations come into effect in Sept 2021.
Not a moment too soon either.
Here is the link from Transport Canada, for those of you interested:


The big problem is NOT drl's, as so many of you (Americans) like to complain about.
The big problem is the instrument panel on all modern vehicles that are lit up 24/7.
Someone above mentioned the "good old days" when the dash was dark when your lights were off.
If your instrument cluster was dark, you knew you didn't have your headlights on. Easy.
Unfortunately, the car industry is not going back to those days, and the interior of modern cars will continue to be lit up like a Christmas tree.
This new regulation is a must, in my humble opinion.
As for DRL's in general, I think in principle, they are great.
There are some manufacturers' DRL designs/systems out there that are less than ideal, agreed, but if implemented properly, they work.
I'm used to seeing every vehicle up here having them, and sometimes get unnerved when I'm driving in the States and half the cars around me are dark.
I can't say this enough to some of you that go to great lengths to disable them or criticize them:
It's not about seeing better, it's about being seen by others.
Nothing worse than driving at dusk in the rain, and some idiot is still driving around without their lights on. He's damn near invisible. And I see that a lot in the U.S. It's dangerous.
A few of you will take exception to my thoughts, but I'm speaking from a point of view where DRL's have been mandatory for 30 years.
Cheers all.
 
Top