Many people think it is an easy topic to just talk about when it comes to the lights of cars but it is important to be aware of all of the lights you have on your car and how to use them, especially when driving at night, in the rain or fog.
Daylight Running Lights: Not to be confused with the low beams, daytime running lights are designed to make you more visible to other drivers. They usually consist of lights at the front and rear of your car which can turn on automatically when you start the engine. Local legislation may be different, but in general, a modern car is configured to meet the local requirements.
Low Beam Headlights/Dipped Headlights: Unlike full beams, low beams (also called dipped headlights) give enough light to show you where you are going without the excessive glare that could dazzle or blind oncoming drivers. Low beams are useful when driving at night, but they have also been proved to improve visibility and safety when used during the day, for example during adverse weather such as rain, snow, sleet or fog or just after sunrise and just before sunset. This is because during these times it can be more difficult to see other vehicles.
Full Beam Headlights: Just like the low beam headlights, full beam headlights help the driver to see the road in the dark. It also signals to other drivers where you are. Full beam headlights give an intense, centre-weighted distribution of light with a lot of glare. Because of this, they should only be used when it is difficult to see and there are no other cars visible in any direction, or you are at least 150m from oncoming traffic and need the full beams to see the road. It is important to turn your full beams off in certain situations to avoid the risk of blinding or distracting oncoming traffic. This includes when cars are approaching you, even if they are on the other side of the motorway divider; in fog as light reflection can make it difficult for you to see; and on curves, on hills and at junctions as you have no way of telling if another car is coming towards you.
Fog Lights: Fog lights with their unique flat and wide beam shape, are usually placed low on the front of the car, near the front bumper. The beam’s shape cuts through the fog to light up the surface of the road, while the position avoids light being reflected back and dazzling the driver. Cars also have at least one rear fog light to help other drivers spot your car. As fog lights are so strong they can distract other drivers, so they should only be used during fog or snow (but not in the rain) when normal headlights are ineffective.
Tail-Lights: Taillights are the red lights on the rear of your car that turn on automatically whenever your headlights are on. They let drivers coming up behind you know that you are there and how far ahead you are.
Signal Lights/Indicators: Signal lights, which are also called turn signals, indicators or blinkers, are located at the front and back of the car. Signal lights can also be found on your side mirrors. They are used to letting other drivers know you are planning to turn and will probably need to slow down to turn.
Brake Lights: Your brake lights tell other drivers that you are slowing down or stopping. As they only turn on when you apply the brakes, you do not need to think about when to use them because they come up on their own.
Hazard Lights: Your signal lights are also used as hazard lights, also known as flashers or hazard warning lights. When the hazard lights are turned on, they flash to warn other drivers of distress or traffic problems. For example, to warn other drivers of a hazard on the road ahead, when you have stopped and are causing a temporary obstruction or have broken down. They should not be used when you temporarily park.
Interior Lights: They are also known as driving lamps. These lights are useful for checking a map or directions or to find something in the dark. They should not be used when driving as they can distract the driver.
When To Use The Lights And Which Time Of The Day
During the day
Daytime visibility in normal weather conditions is usually good which means you are not required to use any additional lights but there are many modern cars that use daytime running lights to improve your visibility to other road users. Visibility starts to fall just after sunrise and just before sunset, that is why it is a good idea to use your low beams at these times of the day.
It is clear that driving at night is more difficult and requires more focus than driving during the day. That is why it is important to balance your need for light to improve your visibility with the needs of other road users. In other words, use your low beam headlights when other cars are around, and high beam headlights when you are at least 150m from other cars. More information has been given above.
Which Lights Should You Use In Different Weather Conditions?
You may be wondering which light to use in different weather conditions.
Lights For Fog
Driving in fog can take some getting used to. To increase your visibility for added safety for you and your passengers, it is important to use your fog lights. Additionally, remember to leave more distance between you and other cars and use the right-hand edge of the road as a guide so you do not follow your natural tendency to drift into the middle of the road when visibility drops.
Lights For Rain
This depends on your visibility. A question you should ask yourself as a driver is: can you see more than 100m ahead of you through the rain? If so, it is recommended to leave your low beam headlights on, but not compulsory. But, if you cannot see more than 100m ahead of you, you need to use your low beam headlights so that other drivers can see you easily. If visibility is very poor, you can also use your fog lights, but remember to turn them off as visibility improves.
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