General Motors is reducing the content on some 2003 vehicles, but the future of daytime running lights remains bright.
The safety benefits outweigh the savings from discontinuing the standard feature, said Vice Chairman Robert Lutz, who was interviewed last month at a GM press event.
GM's study shows that the lights reduce vehicle-pedestrian accidents by 9 percent. The GM study included GM, Saab, Volvo and Volkswagen vehicles.
To cut costs, GM said last April that it would remove features from some 2003 vehicles. Antilock brakes, for example, will be optional on some low-line vehicles such as the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire.
"As we combed through content that is not absolutely essential, we did look at (daytime running lights)," Lutz said. But, he said, "Insurance company and government statistics demonstrate clearly that there is a significant reduction in pedestrian-related injuries and fatalities" with the lights. "I have become convinced that DRLs are a good thing and probably should be on all cars."
In December GM petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require daytime running lights on all vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of less than 10,000 pounds. The agency is reviewing the petition.
GM cites studies that were conducted in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary and Canada. The studies show that the lights reduced vehicle-vehicle and vehicle-pedestrian accidents from 5 percent to 30 percent, depending on the study.
NHTSA data show a 28 percent reduction in fatal single-vehicle pedestrian crashes.
Daytime running lights also are offered by BMW, Ford (on fleet vehicles), Isuzu, Mercedes-Benz, Saab, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.