New European Union (EU) regulations mandating daytime running lights (DLR) have come into force today (7 February).

All new types of passenger cars and small delivery vans will have to be equipped with the lights, while trucks and buses will follow suit in August next year.

DRL uses lamps which automatically switch on when the engine is started and are claimed to have a low energy consumption rate compared with existing dipped-beam head lights.

"Daytime running lights will make an important contribution to our goal of reducing casualties on European roads," said European Commission vice president industry and entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani.

The EU says more than 35,000 people were killed on European roads in 2009 and, for every death there are an estimated four permanently-disabling injuries, 10 serious injuries and 40 minor injuries.

According to recent research on DRL, road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists can detect vehicles equipped with DRL more clearly and sooner than those equipped with dipped beam head lights. 

On vehicles equipped with DRL, the light is automatically switched on when the engine is started. When it is dark the driver has to switch on the driving lights manually. In this case the DRL goes off automatically.

The energy consumption is approximately 25%-30 % of the consumption of a standard driving light. When using LEDs for DRL, the energy consumption is further reduced to only 10%, added the EU.