What Do Drl Mean On A Car? Everything You Need To Know!

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Car manufacturers have come up with an ingenious way of improving road safety using daytime running lights or DRLs. But what exactly are they and how do they work?

DRLs refer to the lighting technology that illuminates vehicles during daytime hours. They help increase visibility for other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists on the road while reducing glare. They emit low-intensity light from the headlights of a vehicle, making it easier for others to see the car’s presence on the road.

The invention of DRLs can be traced back to Scandinavian countries where daylight tends to be scarce during winter months. As such, some countries there had laws requiring motorists to turn on their headlights at all times in order to improve visibility. The idea was quickly adopted globally leading to its incorporation into new cars as standard equipment by most auto manufacturers today.

In this blog post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about DRLs including their history, how they function, benefits, types available, and regulations governing their use in different regions across the world. So, stick around!

Understanding the Basics of DRL

What Are DRL?

DRL stands for Daytime Running Lights. They are a set of lights installed in vehicles to provide greater visibility during daytime driving. The purpose is to enhance road safety, reduce traffic accidents, and ensure that other drivers can see your car even from a distance.

How Do DRL Work?

The workings of DRLs vary depending on the type of system used in the vehicle. However, generally speaking, they automatically turn on when the engine is started and continue running throughout the day while the engine is still running.

DRL systems use low-intensity halogen bulbs or high-performance LED lights. Unlike headlights, DRLs only emit a small amount of illumination. As a result, they consume less power than traditional headlamps. Moreover, they produce enough brightness needed to be seen by other motorists from a distance, making them an ideal solution for improving road safety during daylight hours.

History of DRL

The origins of DRL trace back to Scandinavian countries. In the 1970s, these countries required automakers to install dipped beam headlights as part of their mandatory laws for safer driving conditions. Although dip beams were effective at night, it wasn’t much help during the day time since sun-drenched skies would overshadow them easily. Therefore, researchers began studying how to improve daytime visibility and came up with solutions like DRL.

In Canada, regulations make it necessary for all new passenger cars & trucks sold since February 2018, to include standard DRL operations, while European Union members such as Belgium first adopted this lighting technique into law in 2011.

Types of DRL

LED DRL: This type of DRL uses light-emitting diodes to generate a vibrant and distinct quality bright-white color. LED DRLs have a long lifespan, quick response times, and are energy-efficient compared to other types of lighting systems available in the market currently.

Bulb DRL: Bulb-type daytime running lights use incandescent bulbs which can be halogen or xenon technology that produce more heat during operation than LED lamps. They were prominent when automakers first started incorporating DRL into their lineups, but among many other reasons, today they’re less preferred by modern vehicles owners because of their shorter life span, dimmer output, and higher power consumption.

Flexible Tube DRL: This system is very similar as the LEDs setup except for a flexible silicone tube housing’s LEDS that take care of high visibility. These units are versatile due to creating multiple styles with operational features such as dynamic mode where it changes between different colored leds like flashlights all within the same housing area creating a diverse appearance originating through vehicle brands.

“One elementary way to understand the difference between traditional headlights and daytime running lights (DRL) is to compare them to human eyes. If typical car headlights usually resemble pupils, DRL are like eyebrows – appearing at the top part of an enclosed opening above the actual headlight.”

Benefits of Having DRL on Your Car

Increased Visibility

DRL, or daytime running lights, are a safety feature that turns on the headlights of your vehicle during daylight hours. By doing so, they make your car more visible to other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians on the road.

The increased visibility provided by DRL can be especially helpful in low light conditions such as dawn, dusk, or inclement weather. By enabling other road users to see your car more clearly, DRL can help reduce accidents and prevent collisions.

“Daytime running lights provide an additional layer of safety for drivers by making vehicles more conspicuous throughout the day.” – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Not only do DRL improve your own visibility, but they also help you see other vehicles and obstacles on the road better. This means that even if you are not directly benefiting from the lights being turned on, your awareness is improved which can increase your reaction time when driving.

Improved Safety

DRL have been shown to improve safety on the road and can potentially save lives. In fact, according to a study conducted by Transport Canada, implementing DRL as standard equipment on all Canadian passenger cars was associated with a reduction in daytime head-on collisions by as much as 11%.

The improved safety benefits of DRL come down to the simple fact that if other drivers can see your car more easily, they are less likely to collide with it. Additionally, some DRL systems are designed to adjust their brightness based on ambient lighting conditions, further increasing the effectiveness of this safety feature.

“The use of daytime running lights reduces crashes among multiple categories of road users.” – European Commission

As an added bonus, having DRL can also reduce your car’s risk of theft. Potential thieves may be deterred by the increased visibility provided by daytime running lights, making your car a less enticing target.

  • Improved safety for all road users
  • Potential reduction in accidents and collisions
  • Deterrent against car theft

Adding DRL to your vehicle is a simple yet effective way to improve safety on the road and potentially save lives. By increasing your visibility and reducing the chances of an accident or collision, DRL are becoming increasingly popular across many countries as governments recognize their life-saving potential.

How to Turn On/Off Your DRL

If you’ve ever wondered what DRL means on your car, it stands for “Daytime Running Lights”. These are the lights that come on automatically during the day when you turn on your engine, and they’re designed to make your vehicle more visible on the road. However, if you want to control your DRLs or disable them altogether, here’s how:

Manual Control

If your car has a manual switch for turning off your DRLs, you’ll usually find it on the dashboard near your headlights or on the steering column. Look for a button or a dial with the letters “DRL” on it, and simply press it or rotate it to turn your DRLs on or off.

“If you need to turn off your DRLs manually, make sure to do so only when it’s safe to drive without them.” -The Car Connection

Keep in mind that some cars don’t have a manual override for their DRLs. If that’s the case with your vehicle, keep reading to learn about automatic control options.

Automatic Control

If you prefer to let your car handle its DRLs automatically, you can usually customize their behavior through your vehicle’s settings menu. Depending on your car model, you may be able to adjust things like brightness, timing, and even color of your DRLs using your infotainment system or an app on your phone.

“Many modern cars use sensors to detect ambient light levels and adjust their DRLs accordingly, but not all systems work equally well. Check your owner’s manual to see what kind of features you have available.” -Cars.com

Sometimes, automatic DRLs can malfunction or fail to turn on when you want them to. If that happens, be sure to bring your vehicle in for a checkup with a certified mechanic.

Disabling DRL

If you’d rather not use your DRLs at all, you may have the option to disable them completely. Keep in mind that doing so may affect the resale value of your car and could make it less safe to drive during the day if you’re not careful.

“While you might be able to get away without using DRLs in well-lit areas, they can be especially useful in more shaded or congested driving environments.” -Digital Trends

To disable your DRLs, consult your owner’s manual or contact your dealership for instructions specific to your car model. In some cases, you may need to install a special switch or speak to a technician about disabling the feature safely.

No matter how you decide to handle your DRLs, always remember to prioritize safety first when driving. Make sure your lights are working properly and do what you can to stay visible on the road!

DRL vs. Headlights: What’s the Difference?


DRL stands for Daytime Running Lights and they are designed to be on whenever the car is running, providing front light illumination during daylight hours. It’s important to note that unlike headlights which can switch from low-beam to high-beam intensity levels, DRL operate at a constant level of brightness without any user input.

On the other hand, headlights are primarily used in low-light conditions such as nighttime or foggy weather. They provide complete visibility of the roadway ahead while driving as well as enabling drivers to see vehicles coming towards them.

“Vehicle lighting is one of the most important aspects of driving safety,” says Grant Norton, Senior Vice President of Research & Development at Grote Industries.


The design of DRL and headlights differs greatly. DRL typically consist of LED lights located in the vehicle’s headlamp assembly or bumper, whereas headlights are larger, more powerful lamps usually situated on the front-end of the car body.

One major difference between the designs is their shape. Most DRL features are strips of LEDs that surround the outside edge of the headlight assembly, while headlights have reflectors inside and projectors behind clear lenses instead of an array of separate bulbed beams.

“The use of a projector lens with shutters allows us to create effective and efficient LED lamp systems for automotive applications,” explains Sachin Lawande, CEO of Visteon Corporation.

Power Consumption

In terms of power consumption, using DRL over regular headlights does save energy due to their smaller size and decreased luminance output. It is estimated that replacing halogen headlights with DRL could result in 67% watt-hour savings during drive time.

In contrast, headlights require significantly more energy to operate and are known to have an impact on overall fuel economy. This is the reason why some newer vehicles can now automatically control headlamp beam attitudes specifically in response to highway speeds or when driving with high-beams turned on.

“There’s no doubt that improved efficiency from lighting systems will lead directly to significant improvements in both electric range and fuel economy,” explains Roland Berger, CEO of the strategy consulting firm that bears his name.


Finally, there are a number of regulations surrounding DRL vs Headlights usage in different countries worldwide that vary depending on factors such as age of vehicle and where it was produced. In general, DRL has been shown to reduce accidents rates and improve traffic safety as they make cars make more visible in daylight hours, thus have become mandatory features in modern car design.

Headlight laws also differ around the world, but motorists are usually required to turn them on in low-light conditions or when visibility drops below a certain level – fog for instance. Failing to do so could result in fines or other penalties; however further benefits including increased reaction times and reducing driving fatigue outweigh any negative costs associated with these requirements.

“Understanding regional divergences is essential since automotive regulation serves as a key lever for political and industrial policy worldwide,” says consultant Dr. Mark Kaiser and researcher Marcus Berhanu.

Are DRL Required By Law?

If you’ve ever driven a car, chances are you have seen the acronym “DRL” or heard about it. But what exactly do DRL mean on a car and is it required by law to have them? Let’s find out!

International Laws

DRL or Daytime Running Lights were first introduced in Nordic countries in the mid-70s as a safety feature since the days are shorter and darker for extended periods of time during the year. Since then, several countries around the world have made it mandatory for vehicles to have DRL installed.

In Canada, all new cars manufactured after December 2017 must have DRL while earlier models that did not come with DRL can retrofit their cars with them. European Union countries such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland also have regulations that require motor vehicles to have DRL in use whenever the engine is running.

Brazil and South Korea have also implemented similar laws, whereas other countries like Japan, Australia, and New Zealand have no specific legislation regarding DRL but they’re encouraged for improving road safety.

US Laws

The United States has not made DRL mandatory under federal law yet. However, some states have individual requirements that drivers should follow.

According to American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), there are 28 US states where daytime running lights are either required by law or some type of geographic-specific driving condition necessitates their usage. These conditions may vary from state to state, but their requirement is primarily based on two reasons: improved visibility and reduced accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does mandate automatic headlights on all passenger vehicles made between September 1, 1999, and August 31, 2002. However, this only applies to headlight activation during low-light conditions like dusk, darkness, or inclement weather.

Exceptions to the Laws

There are certain exceptions where cars may not be required to have DRL installed, even if the country or state has made it a legal requirement for all vehicles.

In Canada, motorcycles, mopeds, electric bikes, trailers, and towed vehicle categories do not require DRL as part of their safety certification requirements. Similarly, in the US – some states exempt certain types of vehicles from daytime running lights usage, such as motorbikes or older model car models.

“Research has shown that using daytime running lights can substantially increase the visibility of your vehicle, making you more visible on the road.” -US Department of Transportation

DRL serves as a proactive measure for improving driver’s and pedestrian’s safety by increasing the chances of other drivers spotting them earlier than they would without DRL. Apart from complying with local laws, it is always better to have them enabled, particularly while driving in challenging weather conditions or unfamiliar roads.

While most countries around the world have adopted regulations requiring DRL installation on new vehicles, the United States is yet to follow suit at the federal level. But regardless, having daytime running lights feature in your car can improve overall road safety.

Common Problems with DRL and How to Fix Them


If you’ve noticed that your car’s daytime running lights (DRL) aren’t as bright as they used to be or are significantly dimmer compared to other vehicles, there are several things that could be causing this issue. One of the most common reasons for dim DRL is a faulty alternator. The alternator is responsible for charging the vehicle’s battery and powering the electrical system. If it isn’t working correctly, it can result in diminished power distribution, which affects the intensity of the lights.

To fix this problem, take your car into an auto shop and have the alternator inspected. Additionally, if your car has LED headlights, ensure that they’re not covered in grime or dirt, as this can also impair their brightness.

Flickering DRL

DRLs might flicker on and off at varying intervals due to multiple factors. One reason may be electrical issues, such as frayed wiring or loose connections. It’s recommended to inspect all the wires connected to the lights and confirm whether or not any have come undone. You should address these right away before the issue grows and becomes more complicated to resolve.

An inadequate ground connection might be another lesser-known explanation for flickering DRLs. When grounding points become corroded, worn out, or possess weak connections, it can lead to inconsistent electrical current, resulting in erratic light behaviour. Ground connections can accumulate rust over time, so consider reconnecting them when performing routine maintenance checks on your car.

DRL Not Working

The intermittent failure to start DRLs up is yet another frustrating issue that can arise. Oftentimes this occurs when the fuse gets broken or burnt due to overheating or some other electrical issue, preventing the lights from functioning properly. The most common explanation for this is a burnt-out bulb. DRLs are consistently turned on throughout the day, which means that their bulbs can quickly get worn out.

Check if any of your car’s DRL bulbs have gone defective and replace them as soon as possible. This will save you money in the long run since it’ll help prevent bigger problems from arising later on down the road. For instance, when one bulb goes out, the others might burn much brighter than before they need to be replaced themselves or cause damage to the headlight housing.

“The comfort zone is a psychological state we all enter into where activities and actions fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risks” -Claire Shipman

If your vehicle’s daytime running lights aren’t working correctly, don’t despair; there may still be hope. It’s essential to check each aspect thoroughly, following safety instructions. Fixing minor issues with your car lights yourself is doable if you’re armed with the right knowledge and tools. However, if you’re unsure what the problem causing malfunctioning illumination is, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Meaning of DRL on a Car?

DRL stands for Daytime Running Lights and refers to the lights on a car that are always on when the vehicle is in motion during daylight hours. They are typically located in the front of the vehicle and can be white or amber in color.

Why do Cars have DRL Lights?

Cars have DRL lights as a safety feature to increase visibility of the vehicle during the day. Studies have shown that DRL lights reduce daytime accidents by making the vehicle more visible to other drivers and pedestrians on the road.

How Do DRL Lights Help in Safe Driving?

DRL lights help in safe driving by increasing the visibility of the vehicle during the day. They improve the driver’s ability to see and be seen by other drivers and pedestrians on the road, reducing the risk of accidents and increasing overall safety on the road.

Are DRL Lights Different from Headlights?

Yes, DRL lights are different from headlights. DRL lights are always on when the vehicle is in motion during the day, while headlights are turned on manually by the driver in low-light or nighttime conditions. DRL lights are also typically less bright than headlights.

What are the Benefits of Using DRL Lights on a Car?

The benefits of using DRL lights on a car include increased visibility during the day, which reduces the risk of accidents and increases overall safety on the road. Additionally, DRL lights can improve the overall appearance of the vehicle and may increase resale value.

Is it Mandatory to Have DRL Lights on a Car?

Whether or not it is mandatory to have DRL lights on a car depends on the country and local laws. In some countries, such as Canada and many European countries, DRL lights are mandatory on all new vehicles. In the United States, they are not mandatory, but many newer vehicles come equipped with them as a standard safety feature.

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