New cars will be fitted with automatic daytime headlights within four years, bringing the UK in line with regulations already in place throughout the European Union.
Historically, the Government has opposed the idea on the grounds that using lights in the daytime would increase fuel consumption and emissions.
However, the EU argues that have lights running at all times makes cars more visible, particularly in low sun and at dusk, thereby reducing the potential for accidents.
Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: The UK has been successful in arguing against the introduction of mandatory use of dipped headlamps during daylight hours by drivers of existing vehicles.
However, from early 2011 all new types of passenger cars and light vans will have to be fitted with dedicated daytime running lamps in accordance with the relevant European directive. By summer 2012, all new vehicles will have to be so fitted.
The European Commission says that the lights increase fuel consumption by just 0.3% because they use separate bulbs that are less bright than headlights.