Transport Canada bringing in new lighting rules aiming road safety

Transport Canada is bringing in new lighting rules for vehicles to improve road safety.New manufacturing standards will kick in for all new cars sold in Canada in 2021 to stop so-called “phantom vehicles” — cars with no lights on in the dark.The new rules will also allow new, advanced lighting technologies that boost driver visibility without blinding oncoming traffic.

As of 2021, vehicles will be required to be more visible in low-light conditions by having one of three features:

  • Daytime running lights and tail lights that come on when the vehicle instrument panel is illuminated and the vehicle is in operation.
  • Headlights, tail lights, and side marker lights that automatically turn on in low-light conditions.
  • A driver’s instrument panel that stays dark so the driver knows to turn on all the lights.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau, who is announcing the new rules today, said cars currently on the road are still at risk of becoming phantom vehicles if all the lights are not turned on in low light.

He updated on facebook, “Phantom vehicles have been a nuisance and a safety risk on Canada’s roads for many years and I’m proud our Government is doing something about it. I announced new measures to improve nighttime visibility and safety for all Canadian road users.”

His department has partnered with the Canadian Automobile Association on a public awareness campaign about vehicle lights. Garneau’s office has received an influx of letters from Canadians concerned about the safety hazard posed by phantom vehicles.

Canada was the first country in the world to require all new vehicles to be equipped with daytime running lights, which are headlamps that are illuminated as soon as the car or truck is started.

That 1989 requirement has reduced two-vehicle crashes by between 5.3 per cent and 15 per cent, according to three Canadian studies from the 1990s, two of them by Transport Canada.