When To Use Your High Beam and Low Beam Headlights


The Different Types of Headlights

Proper headlight usage is vital to the highway transportation system. Headlights help improve visibility, making it easier for you to see the road, as well as helping other roadway users see your vehicle. There are three types of headlights we'll be looking at in this article:

  1. Low-Beam Lights
  2. High-Beam Lights
  3. Fog Lights

When should you use your headlights? Keep reading to find out!

When to Use Which Headlights

In general, you should use your headlights:

  • From half an hour before sunset to half an hour after sunrise.
  • When it's cloudy, raining, snowing, or foggy. If weather conditions require you to use your windshield wipers, you should also turn on your low-beam headlights.
  • On frosty mornings.
  • Any time conditions (clouds, rain, snow, dust, smoke, fog, etc.) prevent you from seeing other vehicles. Other drivers may have trouble seeing you, too.
  • On small country or mountain roads, even on sunny days, as this helps other drivers see you and may help you avoid a head-on crash.

Using Low-Beam Headlights

Always use your low-beams when you approach other vehicles, so as not to blind the other driver. Use low-beams when driving where there are street lights, in the fog, and when you are following another car within 200 feet.

Use your low-beam headlights in adverse weather conditions. Using high-beam headlights in poor weather may seem like a good idea, but the bright lights will just reflect off the rain/snow/ice etc., causing an unsafe glare.

Using High-Beam Headlights

High-beam headlights are handy when you can't see more than 200 feet ahead of you using your low-beam headlights. You can use your high-beam headlights on both rural and city roads as long as you're more than 200 feet behind another vehicle and there is not a vehicle approaching within 200 feet.

In most vehicles, you can switch to high-beam headlights by pushing your turn signal lever toward your dashboard. Check your vehicle's owner's manual to see how to turn them on in your vehicle.

Using Fog Lights

Some vehicles are equipped with fog lights, but vehicles are not required to have them. These lights are dimmer than your low-beam headlights and are pointed downwards toward the roadway. If your vehicle happens to have fog lights, you should use them when weather conditions make it difficult to see the road in front of you.

Headlight Technology

Most vehicles have headlight sensors that will turn your low-beam headlights on for you when it is dark outside. Newer vehicles may be equipped with high-beam assist technology that turns your high-beams on depending on the conditions around you. You should still be paying attention to the conditions around you to make sure you're using the appropriate headlights at all times.

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