Do light-sensing headlights cause accidents?

The Isle of Sheppey crash in September involved 130 vehicles in thick fog. Apparently many of them didn't have their lights on. Obviously, there are some silly people who wouldn't put them, on anyway, but I wonder how many were down to the stupid technology of light sensing headlamps. The light switch on my 2010 Honda Jazz is like this. Off then first position - sidelights on, second position - automatic, third position - everything on. When in fog, you need to manually switch it to the everything on position, because if it is thick fog in daylight, the lights will be switched off on automatic. I have a separate switch for front and rear fog lights. If you switch them on, if the other lights are on auto, they too will not come on in the daylight.

This is one of the most stupid things on modern cars and should be banned. Even I have been caught out once, when I thought that I had everything on including front and rear fog lights and suddenly found that I had no lights on at all. My car is old enough not to have these always-on front lights. And I was caught out, not because I didn't know, but because I had only turned the switch two clicks like I would have done in my previous car. Luckily nothing happened but I really think this sensor is stupid. On your next journey in fog or rain in daylight, you will see it is mainly newish cars or more expensive cars that haven't got their lights on. That is my rant on the day.

Asked on 16 November 2013 by RO, via email

Answered by Honest John
You're right. I don't trust automatic headlights. But there's another factor. Daytime Running Lights fitted to most new cars only work at the front, not the rear. Yet many drivers inside their cars seem to be unaware of this. So a car on DRLs in the fog will not be lit at the back.
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