Are You Required To Have Daytime Running Lights in Canada?

Are You Required To Have Daytime Running Lights in Canada - a car with day time running lights
a car with day time running lights

The technology featured in modern vehicles is constantly changing. Daytime running lights are now a standard feature in most vehicles. They are called daytime running lamps (DRLs), which automatically stay on when the vehicle runs. These lights make it easy for other drivers and passersby to spot the vehicle from a distance.

Today in Canada, every vehicle running on the road has daytime running lights since they were made compulsory under the Canadian Vehicle Lighting Regulation in September 2021.

Regardless of DRL regulations, you must ensure that your vehicle is adequately insured. Check this site for more information on the best insurance policies in Ontario.

What are Daytime Running Lights, and Why are They Important?

DRL of a car
DRL of a car, IMG Source

Daytime running lights stay on while the vehicle is on and running on the road. DRLs are often located near the headlights on the vehicle’s front end. Some vehicles come with built-in headlight housing. A daytime running light is not confused with high-beam or low-beam headlights.

DRLs do not come with a turn-off or turn-on button. Unlike headlights, they turn on atomically as soon as you start the vehicle. However, it doesn’t mean the headlights shouldn’t be brought to use when needed.

DRLs aren’t a replacement for main beam headlights as they are pretty dim and designed to enhance the vehicle’s visibility, not illuminating the road.

These lights make it easy for other drivers and pedestrians to see your vehicle in conditions where headlights aren’t used or needed. Unlike daytime running lights, headlights are turned on manually when it’s dark outside.

New Lighting Standard DRLs in Canada

The new standard for daytime running lights in Canada was introduced in the Canadian Vehicle Lighting Regulation. This new law makes it mandatory for all new vehicles to have the following features –

  • Side marker lights, headlights, and taillights that automatically turn on at nighttime or the dark
  • DRLs which turn on automatically with tail lights
  • A dashboard that remains dark to alert the driver to turn on the lights

This standard applies to all new vehicles, including trucks, cars, 3-wheeled vehicles, SUVs, heavy trucks, and motorcycles.

Highlights of New DRLs Regulation

DRL of a car
DRL of a car

The Canadian Vehicle Lighting Regulation was enacted in 2021, but it was first introduced in 2018. This new regulation is a significant step towards improving road safety in Canada through better management of vehicle lightning.

The regulation deals with one of the significant issues of daytime running lights. For example – inattentive drivers could easily confuse DRLs as the car is working and its tail lights are off. Hence, both the tail lights and the DRLs should be on, which should mitigate the issue to a great extent.

Automatic headlights aren’t a revolutionary technology. In 1955, the GM delivered the first Twilight Sentinel System that could switch on the headlights with a drop in the light levels during the night.

The inspiration for these headlights was drawn from the Autronic Eye system, which was introduced in 1952. It switched high beams automatically to low when the system detected oncoming drivers or motorists.

These headlights have gained high popularity in recent decades with improvements in technology. Resultantly, they have now become a standard feature in many vehicles.

How Do DRLs Improve Visibility and Safety?

DRL on a car
DRL on a car

DRLs are mandatory in Canada, as road accidents due to low-light situations have increased. They effectively reduce the possibilities of intersection crashes and head-on collisions.

Listed below are major reasons that make DRLs essential for everyday driving:

1. Increases the Vehicle’s Visibility

Unlike headlights, DRLs do not provide too much road illumination. They facilitate the individuals with the proper lighting allowing cyclists and pedestrians to see the vehicle better.

2. DRLs Can Be Used as a Safety Precaution or as Proof of Accidents or Claims

It is challenging to deal with road accidents. Long investigations and presenting evidence for claims or accidents are both stressful and full of hassles. DRLs come in handy in such situations. The organized DRL system of DRLs helps present evidence that exonerates drivers after an accident.

Here are some common mistakes you should avoid after a car accident!

3. Makes Driving Easy in Bad Weather

Bad weather, especially in rural areas, makes it difficult for drivers to drive safely. Making quick and right decisions becomes tricky, especially if you have no idea what’s ahead of you.

DRLs help in identifying other drivers and road users easily and vice versa. You’ll get sufficient time to take the precautionary or appropriate actions that should save you from accidents.

The Advantages of Daytime Running Lights

The new car models come with in-built DRLs, while a professional can install the system in the older ones. Having a DRLs system in your vehicle will give you the following benefits –

1. The System Uses Comparatively Less Energy

a red colored car on a road
a red colored car on a road

DRLs aren’t designed to replace regular headlights and hence consume less fuel. However, these lights turn on automatically when the vehicle is turned on. However, as they feature LEDs, they are energy efficient.

2. DRLs Include Automatically Adjusting the Light Sensor

DRL of a car
DRL of a car

DRLs shut off automatically when the headlights of the vehicle turn on. In some car models, DRLs are integrated into the headlamps or headlights that disable the lights to save other motorists from disorientation.

3. Savior for Road Users on Foggy Days

a car on a rural road with tree alley and thick fog
a car on a rural road with tree alley and thick fog

High-beam lights distract other road users and drivers on days with reduced visibility caused by bad weather. Daytime running lights provide an adequate amount of lighting for signaling other motorists. Unlike headlights, DRLs provide only ambient light as they don’t have too much glare.

4. DRLs Prevent Fatal Road Accidents

car accident on a road
a car accident on a road

Accidents are likely to happen on days with poor road visibility. According to the Federal Highway Administration, fog and heavy rain, as well as wind-blown snow, dust, and smoke, all affect visibility distance. Low visibility increases the chance of an accident.

There are more than 38,700 car accidents in fog per year. Each year, these accidents result in more than 600 fatalities and more than 16,300 injuries.

Generally, car crashes occur when drivers don’t have sufficient time for speed adjustment in the oncoming vehicle. DRLs installation in the vehicle can prevent these things. Eventually, you’ll be saved from insurance hassles.


DRLs are a savior for other motorists and road users as it improves vehicle visibility. These lights prevent potential road accidents effectively. However, they aren’t a headlights substitute.

Also, even if the drivers have DRLs installed in their vehicles, they need to ensure safe driving behavior. DRLs work best with fleet safety technology that allows drivers and fleet managers to see what is happening on the road.


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