Headlamps-lit, day or night, could become law in all EU member countries soon.

New EU laws could compel drivers to switch on their headlamps whenever they drive – adding £160 to annual fuel bills for some motorists.

The Daily Mail reports that the move is proposed for safety reasons. If successful, the EU would set a deadline by which manufacturers would set lights so that they came on whenever cars were driven. Meantime, drivers would be obliged to turn the lights on, day or night.

If approved, the new law could take effect by 2011, although truck and bus manufacturers would have an extra 18 months to fall into line.

Across the EU, 14 member countries already require drivers to keep their lights on. It became compulsory in Scandinavian countries from the late 1970s, while Austria, Croatia and the Czech Republic adopted the measure in 2006.

A Dutch study suggests that turning on headlamps could prevent 5500 deaths and 155,000 injuries across Europe.

Britain has opposed the new law but a majority of other nations are in favour. The extra power needed by car lights mean that most will cover fewer miles per gallon. According to the Automobile Association, the fuel bill for a typical family car could rise £68 a year as a result, and as much as £160 a year for larger cars.