Norton Seal car driving down the road with a close up of its headlight

On the Road

When Should You Use Your Headlights?

Have you ever wondered when you’re supposed to use your headlights? With more and more cars coming out with automatic lights, there seems to be more confusion than clarity. So let’s look at some general guidelines for when you should use your headlights.

When Do You Use Your Low Beams?

While your car may automatically turn on the low beams, most states don’t require them during the day. That is, unless the weather reduces visibility. But, you will find that using them in the following situations, even when they’re not required, can improve visibility and safety.

During adverse weather. Storms and fog can dramatically decrease your visibility and turning on your lights makes it easier to see. Not only can you navigate better, but you’re easier for oncoming traffic to spot.

At dusk and dawn. It may not be dark enough to officially require lights, but these times of day can create long shadows, glare and reduced visibility. Flipping on your lights makes you more visible to other drivers.

When the sign says so. Have you ever encountered a road sign that tells you to turn on your lights for safety? Experts have determined that that stretch of road is worthy of a little extra caution and lights should be used.

Rural and mountain roads. When the road and the traffic is unpredictable, using your headlights can give you a little extra reaction time by illuminating the distance.

When Do You Use Your High Beams?

Laws require headlights between sunset and sunrise, but when do you switch over from your low beams to your high beams? Using your high beams in the following situations will help you see further down the road. Just remember, when you see oncoming traffic you need to switch back to your low beams!

Rural and mountain roads. High beams improve the view in front of you so you can anticipate turns and react more quickly to animals in the road. Your brights also give oncoming vehicles a little more notice that you’re coming.

On poorly lit roads. Some highways, city streets and country roads don’t have much lighting — meaning you’ll have a hard time seeing. As long as no traffic is coming your way, flip on those brights.

Fog- and rain-free nights. This tip is more about when not to use your high beams. If you’re driving in fog or it’s dark and rainy, your high beams actually reflect back, making it harder to see. But if the night is clear, then you’re all good to use those high beams.

If you want to be proactive about road safety, try leaving your low beams on all the time. While the lights may not help you see on a bright day, they may make you more visible to another vehicle. Connect with your American Family Insurance agent if you’d like to discover more safe driving tips or if you’re ready for your annual car insurance check-up.

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Related Topics: Car Safety , On The Road , Safe Driving