New Brunswick

Be seen or be fined: driving without daytime lights could cost you $172

Driving experts in New Brunswick are applauding tougher laws that require daytime driving lights on all vehicles.

Driving experts say daytime driving lights are a good start, but all drivers should turn their low beams on

Daytime running lights are now mandatory for all New Brunswick vehicles, although driving experts recommend drivers always turn on their low beams for increased safety. (CBC)

Driving experts in New Brunswick are applauding tougher laws that require daytime driving lights on all vehicles.

Gary Howard, vice-president of CAA Atlantic, said he was "pleasantly surprised" to hear drivers without daytime running lights on their vehicles can be fined $172.50 and lose two points on their driving record as of Nov. 1.

He said daytime running lights, which turn on automatically when you start your vehicle, make a "significant difference."

"We've seen a reduction in crash rates by up to 15 per cent because of daytime running lights."

All cars manufactured since 1989 in Canada are required to have running lights, so it is rare to find a vehicle without them. The lights, which illluminate the headlights, aren't for lighting up the road ahead but for increasing a car's visibility to others during the day.

It has always been a requirement for New Brunswick motorists to have operational daytime running lights as part of the annual vehicle safety inspection program.

Daytime lights good, low beams better

As of 2020, Howard said, all cars manufactured will have daytime running lights that also illuminate tail lights, which will make even more of a difference.

Karl Stoeterau, an instructor with Young Drivers of Canada in Moncton, said making yourself seen is a big part of avoiding an accident.

He recommends drivers go a step beyond their automatic daytime running lights and turn their low beams on.

The first thing a lot of drivers say when they hit you is, 'Oh I didn't see you there,' so make yourself seen.- Karl Stoeterau, Young Drivers of Canada

"You just simply turn them on when you start the car — it's very simple," Stoeterau said.

"The daytime running lights are actually not as bright as your low beams are and you are actually 20 per cent less likely to have a collision with your low beams turned on — not the daytime running lights."

Turning on your low beams also turns on your tail lights.

"You want to be seen so put your lights on … the first thing a lot of drivers say when they hit you is, 'Oh I didn't see you there.' So make yourself seen."

Stoeterau said drivers often don't understand that daytime running lights, which come on automatically, don't turn on your tail lights.

"Manually turning on your lights makes you look bigger, makes you look more intimidating to another vehicle, so that other driver is less likely to pull out in front of you or take a chance on a risky decision that they otherwise would have taken," said Stoeterau.

"When I drive I typically just turn my lights on. I think it's just good practice. That way you can be sure everyone can see you," agreed Howard.