Headlights, Laws and Road Safety | All you need to know (2023)

Headlights, Laws and Road Safety | All you need to know (1)

When was the last time you thought about your vehicle's headlights? Do you know which headlights to use in fog, rain, sleet or snow? How can you increase visibility and reduce glare?

While your headlights aren't always a priority, it's important to check them regularly and know how and when to use them to keep the roads safe for yourself and others.

In this guide, you'll learn about headlights, headlight laws, and how to improve road safety for everyone.

When to use headlights

headlight laws

You are required by law to have two working headlights that come on when it is dark, usually from sunset to sunrise. In Tennessee and Georgia, headlights must be on 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise, during low visibility and inclement weather conditions.

These conditions make visibility difficult for other vehicles. When you turn on the headlights, the taillights come on at the same time, greatly reducing the chance of a rear-end collision.


Headlights must be on 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise when visibility is less than 500 feet and in low light/weather conditions.


Headlights are required 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, in fog, smoke, or rain, and when visibility is less than 200 feet.

Headlights are required in some states as long as the vehicle's windshield wipers are on continuously. This indicates the presence of rain, sleet and snow. Other states require drivers to turn on their headlights at roadworks.

Most states require high beams to be dimmed within 500 feet of another vehicle.

Click herefor a list of headlight laws by state.

Use:Find out about headlight laws when driving abroad. Many countries, such as Scandinavia, require headlamps to be used 24 hours a day.

When to use your headlights during the day

You may think that driving with your lights on during the day is unnecessary, but in changing light conditions, cars with their lights on are much safer and more visible.

(Video) 14 HEADLIGHTS & EMERGENCY SIGNALS - Rules Of The Road - (Useful Tips)

In inclement weather conditions, such as fog, smoke, rain, snow, sleet, or when visibility is less than 500 feet, the use of headlamps during the day is strongly recommended (and sometimes required).

Turn on your light when you see a"Daytime Running Light Section"Sign.

WhatDepartment of Motor Vehiclesrecommends using your headlights during the day if:

  • unfavorable weather conditionsobstruct visibility (rain, snow, sleet, fog, or smoke)
  • Andruralymountain roads
  • in narrowtwo lane highways
  • Road signsspecify alighthouse area during the day
  • The sun is rising or setting

If you have trouble seeing other cars, turn on your headlights. They probably have trouble seeing you, too. Don't forget to turn off your headlights when you park.

What are Daytime Running Lights (DRL)?

Depending on the make and model of your car, it may have daytime running lights (low voltage headlights) to improve visibility and increase road safety. Although visibility is usually clear during the day, cars with DRLs are easier to spot than those without. They also let people know if the car is coming or going. Almost all cars made today are equipped with DRLs.

studieshave shown that 24-hour use of headlights with DRLs can reduce the probability of collisions by 5 to 10 percent during the day.

How do you work?Very simple: they work automatically. If it has DRLs, they will come on when the engine starts and go off when the engine stops.

Daytime running lights may consist ofyour parking lightyLED lights around the headlights and taillights.

While daytime running lights reduce the risk of a collision during the day, they are not suitable for driving at night. Be sure to turn on your other headlights when it gets dark or the weather turns bad.

While the increase in road safety may be small, there are no real drawbacks to using your headlights during the day. If you have an older vehicle,Consider using your existing headlights 24 hours a day to reduce collision use during the day.

While no states currently require 24-hour headlamp use, several states have introduced bills to make headlamp use mandatory at all times. Be aware of specific roads that require the use of headlights during the day.

Headlights, Laws and Road Safety | All you need to know (2)

Those:Wikimedia Commons

When to use high beams, low beams and fog lights

To keep you and other drivers safe on the road, it's important to switch your headlights to the correct setting based on location, weather, and time of day.

beam high

High beam is typically used on dark country roads without much traffic. When there are no streetlights on the road, the high beam can help you see further to avoid hitting animals, pedestrians and debris.

(Video) What are the laws for headlights, turn signals, and taillights?

Consider using your high beams when:

  • ruralomountain roads(Turn off your high beams when approaching another vehicle or when another vehicle is approaching you)
  • open roadswhen there are no other vehicles
  • roads and paths that haveno lighting

Always stay with yoursState Laws Regarding Headlights and High Beams. High beams can blind other vehicles on the road and can be very dangerous. Most states require high beams to be dimmed within 500 feet of another vehicle.

If you drive with your high beams on, make sureswitch to dipped beamwhen there is oncoming traffic or when you are approaching a vehicle from behind.

Avoid high beams when other vehicles are nearby. Turn them off when you see approaching vehicles or when driving in an urban area.

dimmed headlights

Use your low beam, also known as low beam, when:

  • Bad weatherhinders visibility
  • driving infog(if you don't have fog lights)
  • Within 500 feet of another vehicle(Many states require high beams to dim to low beams when you are within a certain distance of a vehicle; check your local headlight laws.)
  • Traffic signs indicate aHeadlight section for day

fog lights

When driving in fog, use your low beam headlights or fog lights (if equipped). Do not use fog lights on clear nights, as they can irritate other drivers.

Dashboard Headlight Icons: Are the lights on?

high beam indicator

Headlights, Laws and Road Safety | All you need to know (3)

Those:Wikimedia Commons

high beam/high beam– Your high beam on the dashboard is usually blue with parallel horizontal lines. While these lights provide better visibility at night, they should not be used when other cars are nearby. Use them mainly for rural and dark roads. Never use them when driving on the highway.

To activate the high beam, contact yourmanual operation. Often it involves pushing the stick towards the instrument panel. To deactivate, pull the lever towards you. The high beam indicator light on the dash will illuminate.

You can also use your high beams to communicate with other drivers. Instead of using the horn, a quick flash of your high beams can let someone know your headlights are off.

low beam indicator light

Headlights, Laws and Road Safety | All you need to know (4)

Those:Wikimedia Commons

dipped beam/dipped beam– Your normal headlights, also known as dipped beam or dipped beam, are aimed downward so as not to dazzle oncoming traffic.

Use your low beams between dusk and dawn or when weather conditions make visibility difficult. If it's foggy and there are no fog lights, use your low beams.

(Video) Bright, blinding headlights: Are they legal?

Many motorists choose to use their low beams during the day to improve visibility (when daytime running lights are not available).

Fog Light Indicator Light

Headlights, Laws and Road Safety | All you need to know (5)

Those:Wikimedia Commons

fog lightsFog lights cast a wide, low beam that improves visibility in fog, mist, or mist. However, it is possible to drive with them in normal weather conditions.dangeroushow they annoy and can annoy other driverscause accidents.

If available, you can switch to fog light mode using the main headlight control. For proper operation, consult yourmanual operation.

Side Marker Lights

Headlights, Laws and Road Safety | All you need to know (6)

Those:Wikimedia Commons

side lights- The parking lights are the small white lights at the front corners of the headlights. On some cars, the parking lamp indicators come on when the normal headlights are used.

When the parking lights are on, the taillights and license plate lights usually come on as well.

If your low beams don't work, use your parking lights. At least it will show that you are a car (not a motorcycle) and alert others if you are approaching or moving away.

Tips for headlights and road safety

Here are some additional headlight tips to increase road safety:

  1. Clean the headlight lenses regularly (about once a month when cleaning the windshield). They can get dirty quickly.
  2. Although fogging is normal (caused by the difference in temperature between the inside and outside of the lens), if you notice water on the inside of the lens, contact your local mechanic or auto dealer immediately.
  3. Home remedies like toothpaste or insect repellent can help restore clarity and remove scratches from headlight lenses. You can also pay a professional to restore your headlights or purchase an inexpensive do-it-yourself headlight repair kit at your local auto parts store.
  4. If an oncoming vehicle is dazzling you with its high beams, slow down and look to the right edge of your lane.
  5. Drive slower and more carefully when using your headlights. Visibility is reduced and driving conditions are worse.
  6. During your annual vehicle inspection, ask your mechanic to check that your headlights are properly aligned. Fix your headlights when they point in different directions.
  7. Check your lights regularly and replace them immediately if they stop working. The legislature clearly requires that both headlights work. It's cheap and you can do it yourself. For quick replacement, we recommend keeping spare bulbs and fuses in the vehicle.

Check out our other articles for more driving safety tips:

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Conlocationsin Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make buying your dream car easy.

If you have any questions, please feel free to speak to one of our staff.online specialiststhe llamanos:

(Video) Where did the rules of the road come from?

Chattanooga, Tennessee – (423) 551-3600

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What are the 3 situations that headlights are required? ›

Headlights are required to be on 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, when visibility is less than 500 feet, and in conditions of insufficient light/adverse weather.

What are the 4 types of headlights? ›

The four most common types of car headlights are halogen, LED, Xenon/HID, and laser.

Should headlights be dimmed 500 feet before meeting a car and 300 feet before passing a car? ›

As stated above, a driver must dim his lights when: (1) approaching a vehicle within 500 feet; and, (2) when following a vehicle within 300 feet.

Do you 9 dim your headlights for oncoming vehicles or when you are within 300 feet of a vehicle? ›

Dim your high-beam headlights to low beams within 500 feet of a vehicle coming toward you or within 300 feet of a vehicle you are following. It is illegal to drive using only parking lights. Use your headlights: When it is too dark to see from 1,000 feet away.

What is the first thing you should do when the headlights fail? ›

Turn on your emergency flashers. HEADLIGHT FAILURE: If your vehicle's headlights go out: 1. Try the dimmer switch or headlight switch, that might turn them on again.

What are the two types of headlights? ›

There are three different types of headlight bulbs: halogen (which is based on the technology that has been around for decades), xenon (which uses newer technology to create longer-lasting, brighter light) and LED, which is the newest, most energy-efficient type of automotive light.

What does H4 mean in headlights? ›

H4 lamps. 'H4' indicates that they are dual-filament lamps, also known as bilux bulbs, which means that each bulb contains two filaments. This allows them to be used as both high and low beam lights with one filament for each beam. They are designed with only one lamp base plate.

What does H7 mean in headlights? ›

An H7 bulb – along with other halogen bulbs such as H1, H3, H4 etc – indicates the type of fitting. H7 bulbs tend to be used for dipped – or low – beam, while H1 bulbs can be high or dipped beam, depending on output.

What are the new headlights called? ›

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it issued a final rule allowing what's called “adaptive driving beam headlights” on new vehicles.

What is the legal limit for headlight brightness? ›

The Code of Federal Regulations says that the luminous intensity of headlights must be between 500 and 3,000 candelas. What does all that scientific jargon mean? Drivers who want to install special headlights or taillights shouldn't choose lights that measure more than 3,000 lumens.

At what speed should you switch to high beams? ›

Since you have to be able to stop within the range of your lights, people often use high beams when driving faster than 25 mph in low visibility. If you're going over 25 mph with your low-beam headlights, you might not be able to stop in time to avoid hitting something before you see it.

At what distance should the main beam brighten? ›

Every headlamp emitting a main-beam (bright), must be so adjusted and maintained that it shall be capable of adequately illuminating an area ahead of the motor vehicle, enabling the driver/rider to see any person, vehicle or substantial object at a distance of at least 100 metres.

How many points do you get for failing to lower headlight beams? ›

Fail to use lower beam tickets have 2 demerit points.

What is 35 you should dim your lights for oncoming vehicles or when you are within 300 feet of a vehicle? ›

You must use your headlights 30 minutes after sunset and leave them on until 30 minutes before sunrise. You must dim your lights to low beams within 500 feet of a vehicle coming toward you or within 300 feet of a vehicle you are following.

How far away do you have to be to adjust headlights? ›

Using the measuring tape, measure the distance recommended in your owner's manual, roughly 25 feet. Keeping the surface level, back the car so that the front wheels hit the 25-foot mark.

Will a cop pull me over for a headlight out? ›

Getting Pulled Over for a Violation

If you're driving around in a vehicle that has only one working headlight, chances are an officer will stop you. This applies even if you are driving your car with two working parking lights illuminating the road. You can receive a citation for violating the law.

What three things should you do if your headlights fail? ›

Headlight Failure
  1. First, try your dimmer switch. Often that will turn them back on again.
  2. Try the headlight switch a few times. If that does not work, use your parking lights, hazard lights, or turn signals.
  3. Pull off the road as soon as you can and leave your hazard lights on so that other cars can see you.

What three things should you do if your headlights won't turn on? ›

Check for power and ground, and fix if necessary. Otherwise, replace the bulbs. Bulbs usually don't burn out together, but it's still important to rule that out by checking for power. Most total headlight failures are caused by a bad component like a fuse, relay, or module.

Which headlights to use at night? ›

Your bright headlights or brights are to be used when it is dark out, and no one else is in front of you or driving towards you. For example, if you are on a country road at night and you need to look for deer.

Which is brighter HID or LED headlights? ›

They are both very bright, providing an excellent source of light at night. However, LEDs are slightly brighter, and do not emit the glare that HID lights might. LED lights use electricity, or a diode to function, and HID lights use xenon gas.

What type of headlights are the brightest? ›

Xenon headlights are probably the brightest bulbs you can get for your car that are actually street legal and can, in fact, often be confused for high-beam lights.

What are T4 lights? ›

T4 tubes have a diameter of 13mm. They're compact and easy to install making them perfect for illuminating kitchen counters and worktops as well as under cabinet lighting. These tubes will generally use between six and eight times less energy. This will save you money and help save the environment.

What does HB3 mean in headlights? ›

A: HB3 is actually the same as the 9005 bulb size. The base of the bulb where it screws into your bulb slot will be different from an H11. Do you have a Honda? They typically use H11 for their low beams and 9005 for their high beams but so do other manufacturers.

Which is brighter H4 or H7? ›

The light output is higher with H7 systems than with the H4 ones because two lamps interact. But since H7 systems require four bulbs instead of two, and bulbs should always be replaced on both sides at the same time because of their similar lifetime, H7 systems have a higher cost factor over time.

What does H4 mean in cars? ›

If you are driving off-road or on snow and ice, select H4 (high speed, four-wheel drive) mode to engage four-wheel drive. The system can be switched from two- to four-wheel drive while on the move, at speeds of up to 62mph.

What does H9 mean in headlights? ›

Along the same lines, H9 bulbs are designed for higher luminance. Some of the most powerful models can be half again as bright as a comparable H11. For this reason, H9 bulbs are a popular choice for fog lights and other ultra-bright applications.

What is H1 vs H4 headlights? ›

The primary difference between the H1 and H4 bulbs is the number of filaments in each bulb. The H1 bulb is a halogen bulb, which contains a single filament that uses 55 watts at 12 volts. The H4 bulb is a dual-filament halogen bulb that uses 60 or 55 watts at 12 volts, depending on which filament is in use.

What are the blue headlights called? ›

Blue headlights refer to xenon gas or high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights. Both are usually considered an enormous upgrade over halogen bulbs and LEDs.

What do the headlight symbols on a car mean? ›

Various Light Indicators

The blue light indicates the High Beam headlights are on (be sure to dim these for oncoming traffic.) A similar light, but green, indicates the Low Beam headlights are on. A light symbol with the dashes pointed downward, usually with a slash through the dashes, means the fog lights are on.

Can I legally put LED bulbs in my headlights? ›

Notably, the MoT Testing manual states:

Existing halogen headlamp units on vehicles... must not be converted to be used with high-intensity discharge (HID) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. If such a conversion has been done, you must fail the headlamp for light source and lamp not compatible.

What color temperature is legal for headlights? ›

As a rule of thumb, any halogen bulb with a colour temperature over 4200K is most likely non-road legal. OSRAM's Cool Blue Intense range is your best bet if you're looking for halogen bulbs that are cooler, but still remain road legal. HID bulbs with higher colour temperatures are often road legal.

What color LED headlights are legal? ›

Light Coloring

In compliance with federal recommendations, all states require headlights to be white or amber. It's usually illegal if any other color of light can be seen from the front of the vehicle.

What lights to use in fog? ›

Fog Resources

Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination. Make your vehicle visible to others both ahead of you and behind you by using your low-beam headlights since this means your taillights will also be on. Use fog lights if you have them. Never use your high-beam lights.

Why would you just flash your high-beam lights? ›

Though not all of its rules represent law, the Highway Code states "Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights in an attempt to intimidate other road users".

Can I use my high beams if my headlights are out? ›

In many cases, the high beams will still work when the regular headlights stop, but it's just not safe to drive around with your high beams potentially blinding other drivers.

What is the last action before changing lanes? ›

Check your rear view and side mirrors for other vehicles currently in the lane in which you are planning to move to. Check your vehicle's blind spot. It is very important to check your blind spot ever time you prepare to change lanes. Check your mirrors again.

What should you do if a vehicle using high beams comes toward you? ›

If an approaching car is using its high-beams, don't look directly into the oncoming headlights—look toward the right edge of your lane. Watch the oncoming car out of the corner of your eye. Do not try retaliating against the other driver by keeping your high-beam lights on. If you do, both of you may be blinded.

What distance Should I turn off my high beams? ›

The exact distance varies from state to state, but typically, high beam headlights must not be used within 500 feet of an approaching vehicle or within 200 or 300 feet of another vehicle you're following.

Can you drive with one low beam out? ›

Unfortunately, yes, it is illegal to drive with one headlight out. The fundamental law in most states requires all vehicles to have and use headlights from night until morning. You'll have to get your headlights fixed as soon as possible to avoid being pulled over or ticketed.

Should you replace both low beams at once? ›

Thankfully, most modern vehicles have more than one set of headlights. The secondary headlights, however, are not enough to carry a full beam in the darkness. For this reason, our mechanics recommend installing both lights when one goes out.

Which headlights should be used just before dawn and just before dusk? ›

Low beam headlights / dipped headlights

Low beams are essential 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 (rain, snow, sleet or fog) or just after sunrise and just before sunset.

How high off the ground should headlights be? ›

Step 4 Make sure the lights are level.

These center lines should be no higher than 3.5 feet (1.1 m) from the ground.

At what speed do you outrun your headlights? ›

The math is surprisingly simple: At 55 miles per hour, you need about 500 feet to perceive an obstacle, react to it and bring your vehicle to a complete and safe stop. AAA's research found that the most common halogen reflector lights illuminate only 300 feet on low beams.

Can headlights be aimed too high? ›

If your headlights are pointed at the ground it causes glare on the road which negatively affects your ability to see far down the road. If your headlights are aimed a little too high they could be shining into space reflecting off nothing rendering them practically useless!

What are the 3 purposes of lighting? ›

Summary: Ryan covers the three functions that light plays in the creation of your images: separation, shadow, and fill.

What are the 3 lights on a car? ›

Never ignore these 3 dashboard lights in your car
  • Warning lights to pay attention to.
  • The red thermometer. ...
  • The red oil can: This means your oil is dangerously low. ...
  • The red battery: This means your alternator is no longer charging the battery. ...
  • Confusing Check Engine Light.
Jul 29, 2021

What are the 3 major categories of lighting based on how the light is created? ›

Yet, each of the three types of lighting has a particular function to fulfill specific needs, which are: Ambient lighting. Task lighting. Accent lighting.

In which of the following situations should you use your low beam headlights? ›

You should also use your low beam headlights when you're driving in fog, rain or heavy snow. The lowered direction of the light works best for cutting through situations of low visibility. Using your high beams in these situations causes the light to reflect back to you, producing a glare in your field of vision.

What are stage lights called? ›

Stage Lighting Terminology. Lantern: Though you may simply hear them referred to as lights or lighting fixtures, the lighting units used in stage lighting are also commonly called lanterns. In Europe, the more common term is luminaire.

What are the 5 functions of lighting? ›

Summary: Every light you use should fulfill one of five roles: key, fill, backlight, set, effects. If it isn't, turn it off.

What are the 4 qualities of light? ›

Lighting for the stage involves manipulating the four major Controllable Qualities of light; Intensity, Color, Direction and Movement; to influence the four functions of stage lighting listed below.

What lights to use in rain? ›

Use the headlights: Turn on your headlights whenever it is raining or overcast. Use just your normal headlights. Don't use your high beams because they can blind other drivers and yourself as the bright lights reflect off sheets of rain. Your fog lights won't do much to help either.

What are the two important lights of a car? ›

The most important car lights are headlights. The two types of headlights are low beam and high beam, which allow drivers to see the road in the dark and make themselves visible to other motorists. Other car lights include DRLs, sidelights, and fog lights.

Which lights to use in fog? ›

Fog Resources

Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination. Make your vehicle visible to others both ahead of you and behind you by using your low-beam headlights since this means your taillights will also be on. Use fog lights if you have them. Never use your high-beam lights.

What are the 7 components of light? ›

White light is composed of seven components. These colours are violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red.

What are 4 sources of light? ›

Natural sources of light include the sun, stars, fire, and electricity in storms. There are even some animals and plants that can create their own light, such as fireflies, jellyfish, and mushrooms.

When should you turn off high beams? ›

The exact distance varies from state to state, but typically, high beam headlights must not be used within 500 feet of an approaching vehicle or within 200 or 300 feet of another vehicle you're following.

When should headlights be turned on? ›

Make sure you can stop within the distance lighted by your headlights. The law says you must turn your headlights on 30 minutes after sunset and leave them on until 30 minutes before sunrise. You must turn your lights on any time you can't see at least 1000 feet ahead.


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