All new cars and LCVs will have to be fitted with “daytime running lights” from 2011 if proposals from the European Commission are agreed by the European Parliament.
Such proposals have been strongly opposed by carmakers who claim forcing cars to have their lights on will increase fuel consumption.
The move has also been opposed by motorcycle, pedestrian and pedal cycle safety groups who claim that it will make it harder to spot other road users if all vehicles have their headlights on.
However, to overcome these, the Commission has used its authority to write UN vehicle regulations into EU law to make the change.
EU industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen said: “The introduction of daytime running light for cars, trucks and buses makes them more visible, which will increase road safety.”
Countering potential opposition, he said such lights used 25-30% of normal headlight energy consumption, and when LED (light emitting diode) lamps are used – this falls to 10%.