• transport canada headlights

Transport Canada Sets New Standard to Keep Cars Illuminated at Night

Transport Canada has launched a campaign called SEE and be SEEN, which includes this handy chart which explains what lights your vehicle has and when you should use them.

Gary Grant By: Gary Grant March 27, 2018
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We’ve all seen it. Driving along on the 401 in the pitch dark, when out of the blackness appears a car with no tail lights, the driver blissfully unaware that they are a rolling hazard to themselves and everyone else on the road.

The problem stems from modern vehicles in which the dashboard illumination remains the same whether the full lighting system is turned on or not. It is compounded by many modern drivers’ inability to concentrate on operating a machine correctly.

In an amusingly phrased announcement reference ghostbusting on March 21, Canadian Minister of Transport and retired astronaut (which makes him cooler than you and I) Marc Garneau reported that beginning in 2021 all cars sold in Canada would have to be more visible in low light conditions.

“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” Garneau said, adding “The new measures we’re taking will improve nighttime visibility and safety for all Canadian road users. As more new vehicles are built to our lighting safety standard, phantom vehicles will eventually become ghosts of the past.”

Manufacturers will have to use one of three solutions:

∙ 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.

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A pet peeve of mine in recent years, phantom vehicles are one of the most frequent concerns that Canadians contact Transport Canada about.

Canada became the first country in the world to mandate Daytime Running Lights(DRL) back in 1989. Interestingly, the feature is still not a requirement in the United States, which makes part of the announcement somewhat confusing.

Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board of Canada is quoted as saying “By aligning standards with our closest trading partner, the United States, and the European Union, we are demonstrating that regulatory cooperation can lead to both stronger protection for Canadian consumers and more opportunities for Canadian businesses.”

To get an explanation, I spoke with Transport Canada media representative Pierre Manoni who explained that “Canada’s lighting regulation is very similar but not identical to every aspect of the U.S. regulation” and DRL is one example.

Technically speaking, Manoni says “This amendment will enhance the level of alignment with the U.S. incorporating by reference Technical Standard Document 108, which reproduces United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 (the U.S. safety standard) on the same subject. Updating the Canadian requirements will reinforce alignment of the majority of the lighting requirements with the U.S. safety standard and the North American industry standards developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers.”

To simplify, the bulk of Canada’s Safety Standard 108 is now closer to that used by the United States. These standards are directed at auto manufacturers rather than the public.

Making the case for adaptive headlights in Canada

Additionally, in an effort to educate drivers in the common sense use of vehicle lighting, Transport Canada has launched a campaign called SEE and be SEEN, which includes this handy chart which explains what lights your vehicle has and when you should use them.

SEE and be SEEN

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