Dimwits: EU's edict to keep car lights on ALL day will cost drivers £160 a year in wasted fuel


Last updated at 21:14 29 February 2008

Motorists will be hit by up to £160 more in fuel costs because of a "ludicrous" European directive forcing them to drive with their lights on all day.

Campaigners say the new rules will make the roads more dangerous for motorcyclists and will lead to more deaths.

Britain opposed the measure but was unable to block it because a majority of other EU nations were in favour.

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Volvos already have their lights on during daylight

Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick admitted this week that the rules, which will come into force in 2011 and relate to new cars, would lead to annual fuel consumption rising by 5 per cent.

According to AA figures, for the average family-sized car, driving the average 8,770 miles a year, this would increase fuel costs by £68 a year at today's prices.

That is based on a car doing 31 miles per gallon. But some models do only 13mpg, meaning the increase could be as much as £160 a year.

Heavy goods vehicles would see costs shoot up by £260 a year, based on the average 8.1mpg rate.

Campaigners say the ruling, which will be in force from Lapland in the north to Cyprus in the south, will harm the environment by wasting fuel.

Britain opposed the directive but was unable to prevent European transport ministers approving it, because transport measures do not require unanimous backing by EU member states.

Daytime-running lights were made compulsory in Scandinavian countries in the late 1970s - which is why Swedish-built Volvos always have their lights on.

In 2006, Austria, Croatia and the Czech Republic became the first countries outside northern Europe to follow suit. Daytime lights are now used in 14 states.

A study by Dutch researchers found they could save 5,500 deaths and 155,000 injuries across Europe.

Greg Knight, Tory MP for East Yorkshire, said: "This idea was being pushed by Scandinavian countries and it's absolutely ludicrous that it should be imposed in a blanket fashion across Europe.

"The UK does not suffer from the short hours of daylight as in northern Europe, and places like Spain

certainly don't. All the green groups are worried about the environment - surely this will make it worse.

"There are also fears it will harm road safety."

The proposal was opposed by Stephen Ladyman, who was transport minister during earlier discussions on it in Europe.

Last night Mr Ladyman, who is now a backbencher, said: "This directive will kill a lot of motorcyclists. They use daytime lights to make them easier to see, but if cars are using them as well, motorbikes will just blur into the background.

"This is only being brought in because Germany and Austria don't want to have proper speed limits on autobahns, so they think this will be a good road safety measure."

It had been feared that all cars would be covered by the rules, meaning that those not fitted with daytime running lamps would have had to drive around with dipped headlights.

But European ministers backed off from this proposal.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: "Daytime-running lights offer a significant safety advantage, particularly for pedestrians trying to spot moving cars through a line of parked vehicles.

"However, motorcyclists are very worried that other motorists will no longer be able to pick them out from other traffic.

"The extra carbon dioxide emissions from all cars having to turn on their headlights during the day was a major concern when daytime-running lights were first suggested in Europe.

"However, that threat has been diminished by restricting the measure to new cars only, many of which have energy-saving LED lights for driving in daylight."

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