Use of Car Lights

Chapter 33

Use of car lights

You can’t see as much in the dark, which makes it harder to drive and increases crash risk. Your headlights, tail lights and rear number plate lights must be on and visible in poor light conditions.

You must be able to stop within the distance of your lights

Headlight and rear lights serve two purposes. They help you see at night and in poor light conditions, and help other people see you, even during the day. They must be on between sunset and sunrise and in weather conditions when visibility is seriously reduced. If you cannot see at least 100m, you must use your headlights.

Slow down when driving at night in order to give you more time to identify and react to potential hazards.

A car with only one working light can be mistaken for a motorcycle at night

Full beam

Full beam headlights help you see further ahead, but they may also dazzle oncoming drivers. You should dip your full beam headlights:

  • as soon as you see an approaching vehicle on the opposite carriageway
  • when you are close enough behind another vehicle that your full beam headlights will dazzle that driver (always dip when within 200m!)

When overtaking from behind, keep your headlights dipped until you are level with the other vehicle, and then change to full beam if necessary and you won’t dazzle oncoming road users.

Keep a distance of at least 200m if using full beam to avoid dazzling other drivers

Make sure that you don’t dazzle other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. Use dipped headlights, or dim-dip if fitted, at night in built-up areas and in dull daytime weather, to ensure that you can be seen.

Avoid being dazzled

Don't look at the headlights of an oncoming vehicle as you may be dazzled

If dazzled - slow down, look to the left side of the road and drive to the left of your lane or pull over until recovered.

Fog lights

If your visibility is seriously reduced, you can use fog lights. However, you MUST switch them off when visibility improves to avoid dazzling other road users.

Hazard warning lights

Hazard warning lights may be used when your vehicle is stationary, to warn that it is temporarily obstructing traffic. Never use them as an excuse for dangerous or illegal parking.

You MUST NOT use hazard warning lights while driving or being towed unless you are on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway and you need to warn drivers behind you of a hazard or obstruction ahead. Only use them for long enough to ensure that your warning has been observed.

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