Daytime running lights (DRL) are purpose-made, low-wattage lights that must be fitted to certain vehicles under UK law. These lights activate any time the vehicle’s engine is switched on, improving visibility for all road users and pedestrians.
What Vehicles Does The Law Cover?
The UK’s daytime running light laws (DRL) came into place in February 2011. Passenger and light goods vehicles manufactured after this date must be fitted with DRL. A similar piece of legislation covers heavy goods vehicles.
Motorcycles And AHO
There is no legislation requiring motorcycles to be fitted with DRL. Many (if not most) manufacturers include AHO (automatic headlight on) in the motorcycle industry. This functions the same as DRL. If the engine is on, a headlight is on.
Sometimes you’ll see this feature advertised as Euro-compliant in motorcycles. But the UK technically doesn’t require this feature.
Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bike from a major manufacturer made after February 2011 on the road here without an AHO system fitted. They are required in various European countries, and producing two lines with such a minor variation for a national market probably doesn’t make economic or logistical sense.
AHO and DRL are both intended to be bright enough to be visible during the daytime. Using them at night will scorch the eyeballs out of oncoming traffic, so try to make sure you’ve switched over after dark (in most cases, this is automated).
Because there’s no legal requirement (even for newly manufactured bikes), you don’t have to rush out and retrofit your old machine with an AHO system. I ride a 1986 Yamaha SRV, and no matter the time of day, I use the ol’ “push the light into the on position” technique to increase my visibility.
Still, retrofitting can be done by a pro. They may use a similar system to cars – one lamp for AHO and position lighting with two different settings.