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 GARDEN CITY, N.Y., Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- While record numbers of motorists prepare for Labor Day trips, Avis Rent A Car today said that it is equipping rental cars in six northern states with daytime running lights (DRLs), as a pilot program to increase the safety of renters and to advance U.S. consumer awareness of this safety option.
 With daytime running lights, the headlights of a vehicle are on whenever the car engine is running: In the dark, the headlights are on at full power; they are at 80 percent power at all other times. The object is to make the vehicle more visible to other drivers, and thereby reducing accidents.
 The use of daytime running lights has been mandatory in Canada since 1990, and in Sweden since 1977, and has been proven to reduce accidents. Based on international experience and domestic tests, Avis believes that daytime running lights can help increase driver safety in this nation, and is taking a proactive approach to advance their acceptance and use in the United States.
 "Daytime running light programs in other countries have dramatically reduced personal injuries and vehicle collisions, and independent tests by large fleet operators in this country have produced similar results," Robert Salerno, senior vice president and general manager at Avis, said. "Our six-state pilot program will help us gather data about the efficacy of this safety option in the United States, and could help improve the safety of travel to the benefit of all. Through our Avis Cares test program, we want to make our renters aware that the system is available as an option." The pilot includes fleets in these cities: Portland, Maine; Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, N.Y.; Detroit; Minneapolis; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle.
 "We have selected these cities as ideal test sites because they are within the northern latitudes, where DRLs are proven to work best," Salerno said. "The fleet size of each city lends itself to the analysis of test and control groups."
 Avis is installing after-market devices made by Pacific Insight Electronics Corp. in a variety of models for rental in both airport and downtown locations. Both 1993 and 1994 model vehicles are included in the test. Installation of the system is underway.
 The automatic headlight control connects directly into a vehicle's wiring system under the control panel. A light-sensing device automatically brings headlamp intensity to full and lights the tail lights and control panel at dark and shuts them off shortly after the ignition is turned off. The driver has the option of bringing the headlamps to full power at any time by manually activating the light switch on the control panel.
 Avis said it was so convinced of the safety value of DRLs that it has equipped all its U.S. airport buses with them.
 Canada, which started a mandatory DRL program in 1990, estimates that 120 lives are saved and 11,000 injuries are prevented annually because vehicles are easier to see when their lights are on, according to Transport Canada, the government agency responsible for traffic safety.
 According to the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, daytime multi-vehicle accidents have been reduced 23 percent in Sweden, 40 percent in Norway and 37 percent in Finland.
 In two U.S. independent studies Greyhound Bus reported an 11 percent accident reduction and AT&T Long Lines a 32 percent overall reduction with their lights-on programs.
 As part of this test, Avis will statistically track the DRL-equipped cars and compare accident incidence to Avis cars not so equipped in the same cities. Avis will also evaluate customer response and satisfaction. This data will be made available to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for its study.
 "We're very glad that Avis has undertaken on its own this pilot DRL program and selected GM vehicles for this activity. It will put DRL- equipped cars in the hands of the broad spectrum of the public where their feedback will add considerably to safety data," J. Michael Losh, General Motors vice president and group executive, North American vehicle sales, service and marketing, said. "With its sophisticated computer driven Wizard system, Avis will be able to track and record the DRL's performance in all sorts of traffic conditions -- urban, suburban and rural."
 Avis is launching the test program following a rule change by NHTSA, which allows use of DRLs as an option in all states.
 A NHTSA report points out that there has been a 20 percent reduction in daylight accidents since center, high mounted rear brakelamps were required on automobiles, compared with only an 8 percent reduction in nighttime collisions. Their statistics indicate that enhanced visibility in daylight increases traffic safety, Avis said.
 Avis said the DRL pilot is the latest facet of its Avis Cares program that was initiated three years ago to make the travel experience safer, easier and less complicated for travelers.
 Avis is the largest employee-owned company in the travel industry, operating since 1987 under an employee stock ownership plan. Worldwide, Avis car rental activities are conducted at approximately 4,800 locations in 139 countries around the world.
 -0- 8/31/93
 /CONTACT: Raymond Noble of Avis, 516-222-4719/

CO: Avis Rent A Car ST: New York IN: AUT SU:

TW-MP -- NY019 -- 7456 08/31/93 11:19 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 31, 1993

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