The European Commission has announced plans to make it mandatory for all new cars to be fitted with daytime running lights (DRLs) as standard from 2011, and on trucks and buses one and a half years later. Despite widespread opposition from carmakers, the issue was raised once again on the back of research conducted by the EU that shows DRLs could potentially help reduce fatal accidents by 3-5%.

"The introduction of DRLs for cars, trucks and buses makes them more visible, which will increase road safety. This will make a positive contribution to our goal of reducing fatalities on European roads whilst being more fuel efficient then existing lights," said European Commission vice president Günter Verheugen.

Carmakers are opposed to the ruling because they claim there is a risk that some drivers will forget to switch on their headlights at night. They also believe there could be confusion among road users between these lights and front fog lamps, reports the Telegraph.

The use of daytime running lights also leads to fuel efficiency losses, with increases in fuel consumption of 0.5%-1% not unreasonable. However this is being reduced greatly by the increasing number of cars using LEDs for this function.

The law is still subject to the approval of both European ministers and the European parliament, but it is expected to be passed unopposed as it is already backed by Robert Gifford, the executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety.