Road safety laws vary by country, but most require white front and red rear lights. Some countries also require additional amber or yellow turn signals. In the United States, for example, all cars have different types of car lights either they must have two headlamps, a brake light, a tail light, a turn signal, and a backup light.
In this article, we will go over the different types of car lights and their purposes so you can be sure your car is compliant and safe to drive.
What Are Car Lights?
Car lights are the different types of lights that are used on a car. These include headlights, taillights, fog lights, and turn signals. Each type of light serves a different purpose and is necessary for safe driving.
Types of Car Lights
There are many different types of lights found on cars, trucks, and SUVs. Here is a list of the most common:
The most common type of headlights you will see on a car are the following:
Low beam headlights / dipped headlights
These are the main beams of light that are used to light up the road ahead during nighttime driving and in poor weather conditions such as fog. Low beam headlights must be used when approaching oncoming traffic and should be dimmed when following another car so as not to dazzle the driver.
Full beam headlights
Full beam headlights, also known as high beam headlights, are used to give the driver the maximum possible view of the road ahead. They should only be used when there is no oncoming traffic and should be dimmed as soon as an oncoming car is spotted.
Only use them when it’s difficult to see and there are no other cars in sight, or you are at least 150 meters away from oncoming traffic and need the full beams to navigate so as to not blind the oncoming driver.
As indicated by their name, brake lights are used to warn drivers behind you that you are slowing down or stopping. Brake lights are usually red and are located at the rear of the car. They should automatically light up brightly whenever the brakes are applied, so as to make the car behind you aware that you are braking and slowing down.
Daytime Driving Lights
Relatively new to the world of cars, daytime driving lights (also known as DRLs) are designed to make your car more visible during the day. While they are not as bright as headlights, they still serve the purpose of making your car more visible on the road.
The red lights on the rear of your automobile, also known as taillights, turn on automatically when your headlights are turned on. They make it known to drivers behind you that you’re there and how far ahead of them you are.
Much self-explanatory, fog lights are used to help you see better in foggy or misty conditions. They are usually mounted low on the front of the car, and point downwards so as not to reflect the fog back into your eyes. They are located below the headlights, and should only be used when visibility is poor.
These serve a crucial purpose in letting other drivers know your intentions, and are usually located on the front and rear of the car. They are used to indicate when you are turning or when you are changing lanes, and usually flash in a specific pattern depending on whether you are turning left or right. Signal lights are also known as turn signals or indicator lights and can also be found on your side mirrors
Hazard lights, also known as flashers or hazard warning lights, are the purpose of your signal lights. The hazard lights flash to notify other drivers of an emergency, distress, or traffic congestion when they are switched on. For example, to warn other drivers of a hazard on the road ahead, when you’ve stopped and are causing a temporary obstruction or have broken down. They should not be used when you temporarily park.
Driving lamps or Interior Lights
These are not required by law but are a good safety measure to take nonetheless. Driving lamps brighten up the interior of your car at night, making it easier to see things inside the car. They can be turned on without the headlights being on, and are usually mounted on the roof or dashboard.
They shouldn’t be used while driving as they can cause the driver to go blind to what’s going on outside, but can come in handy when you’re stopped and need to see something inside the car such as a map.
Which Lights to Use at Different Times of Day
The following is a guide for when to use each type of light.
During the day
Normally, daytime does not require the use of any car lights. However, if visibility is poor due to rain, fog, snow, or dust, then you should use your low beam headlights. Many modern cars now have daytime running lights that switch on automatically whenever the engine is started and in many cases look like dimmed versions of the low beam headlights.
Just after sunrise or just before sunset
During these times, it can be difficult to see other vehicles and pedestrians. As a result, you should use your low beam headlights or daytime running lights.
On a clear night, you should use your low beam headlights and high beam if you are not following closely behind another car. If you are driving in urban areas, you should use your low beam headlights at all times.
Which lights should you use in the fog?
If you can’t see the road ahead of you, then it’s important to use your low beam headlights. This will help you see the road better and avoid any potential accidents this will not only alert other drivers of your presence but will also help you see any obstacles that you may encounter on the road.
Which lights should you use in the rain?
In rain during the day, you should use your windshield wipers and your low beam headlights. However, this is not a must as long as you can see the road ahead of you. At night, however, you should definitely use your low beam headlights in conjunction with your windshield wipers.
So, there you have it. These are the different types of car lights and when to use them. Remember, using the correct lights at the appropriate times will not only improve your visibility on the road but will also help prevent any accidents. Drive safe!
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