The federal government is introducing a new vehicle lighting safety standard.
The new safety standard requires all new cars sold in Canada as of 2021 to be more visible in low-light conditions, and will require manufacturers to build vehicles that do one of the following:
- Have daytime running lights and tail lights come on when the vehicle instrument panel is illuminated and the vehicle is in operation;
- Automatically turn on the headlights, tail lights, and side marker lights in low-light conditions; or
- Keep the driver’s instrument panel dark so the driver knows to turn on all the lights.
At the same time, the new vehicle lighting safety standard will allow new, advanced lighting technologies that boost driver visibility without blinding oncoming traffic.
Vehicles that drive in the dark with no lights on, also known as ‘phantom vehicles’, pose a safety risk as they are difficult to see in low-light conditions. Drivers believe an illuminated instrument panel means the headlights and tail lights are already on, which may not be the case.
While the new lighting safety standard will apply to vehicles sold from September 1, 2021 onwards, current vehicles are still at risk of becoming phantom vehicles if all the lights are not turned on in low light.
Drivers are reminded to turn on all their lights at night and during inclement weather. Drivers should also use the ‘automatic’ setting on their headlights, if available.
To raise awareness about phantom vehicles and vehicle lighting, Transport Canada has teamed up with the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) to renew its ‘SEE and be SEEN’ campaign, which raises awareness about vehicle lights with Canadian motorists. See SEE and be SEEN for more information.