Cars are equipped with different safety features that enable safe driving and keep car occupants safe. One of these is the high-beam headlights. They are the strongest lights in a vehicle and typically give drivers better and wider visibility when driving at night.
If, however, the high beam light isn’t used correctly, it could end people’s lives. The law recognizes this, which is why it is passed into law that high-beam headlights must not be used within a certain distance to avoid casualties. So in this article, you will learn about instances where high beams should be used and instances they shouldn’t be used.
When should high-beam headlights be used?
High beam headlights are used to providing verse visibility for drivers after dark. However, while this light is important, it must be used correctly else it can blind you and other drivers or other road users. Invariably leading to crashes and casualties. So with this in mind, while it is recommended to use your high-beam headlights at night, under what circumstances should you use them?
Urban areas with low visibility
If you’re driving within urban areas with very low visibility, it’s safe to use your high-beam headlights as this will not just provide you visibility in the dark but will also let you have a wider viewing range. This way, you can quickly see any road obstruction and navigate as fast as possible.
Driving with high-beam headlights in areas with scanty or no street lights also helps provide visibility for other road users like pedestrians and bicyclists. However, be ready to dim your light if vehicles are nearby to avoid blinding other drivers.
Interstate highways and country roads
Suppose you are driving at night on any interstate highway or country roads with limited or sparsely distributed road lights; the use of high-beam headlights becomes paramount. While this will let you see the road better, it will also help provide visibility for anyone using the road at that moment.
However, you must be watchful too. While interstate highways and country roads are usually lonely at night, don’t rule out the chance of other vehicles using the road at that time. So be ready to dim your lights when you’re close behind another car or another car is approaching you. This is important, so you don’t dazzle other drivers.
Rural areas with scanty street lights
Driving on rural roads with few street lights may be very dangerous at night, as this may impair your vision. However, using your high-beam headlights at night increases your viewing range. Invariably preventing you from hitting other road users—animals, cyclists, or even pedestrians taking strolls.
Driving at high speeds in the dark
While low-beam headlights are also very useful in the dark, they have distances they can provide visibility for. Typically, low-beam lights can help you see up to 200 feet. But another issue with low beam lights is that you must be driving at a certain speed to use them.
Generally, one should be able to stop within the distance of their lights. If you’re driving too fast on low beams, you may hit an object before seeing it. Why? The stopping distance may be longer than your visibility range. So at what speeds is it recommended to safely and legally use low-beam headlights?
Low beams are recommended for use when driving under 25 mph. So when driving at high speeds (above 25 mph) at night, use your high beam headlights instead as it increases your viewing range. This helps you quickly see any object ahead and stop on time. However, be conscious of the distance between the car approaching you and the vehicle you’re following.
When it’s really dark
Low-beam headlights can provide you visibility for a distance of about 200 feet. If, however, you need a more illuminated range, you can switch to high-beam headlights. High beams are going to allow you to see the roadway beyond 350-400 feet.
This can come in handy on whatever road you’re driving. Just ensure you’re not closely behind any vehicle or other cars are not approaching too close. Being too close to other vehicles may cause blinding to the drivers of the other cars. This leads to the question, when should high beam headlights not be used within?
However, do not use high beams all the time because one or both low beams are not lighting. Always fix your light issues to avoid getting tickets on the road or putting yourself and other road users at risk.
Read Also: How To Remove Fog From Headlights
When should high-beam headlights must not be used within?
While the use of high-beam headlights helps in increasing your viewing range, they must be used within certain distances or situations. This is aimed at preventing casualties. So when should a high beam not be used?
When another vehicle approaching is within 200-500 feet
High-beam headlights can indeed increase or improve your visibility to about 350 to 400 feet. However, when another vehicle approaching you from the opposite direction is within 200-500 feet, switch to low beams. As this helps to avoid blinding other drivers and causing a crash.
Please note that the distance within which you shouldn’t use high beams differs from state to state. So be sure to check with your local DMV for your state requirement. For example, a state like Florida requires that you switch to low beam if you’re within 500 feet from another vehicle—whether an oncoming vehicle or to vehicle you’re behind.
When the vehicle you’re following is less than 200-300 feet away
High beam lights must not be used within 200-300 feet from the vehicle you’re following because this may blind the driver in front. Note that there are state laws guiding distances within which high beams should be used on certain roads. So you will need to check with your local DMV for the exact distance required by your state.
In these situations, switching to low-beam lights can highly effective to avoid blinding other drivers. However, low-beam headlights must be bright enough to allow a driver to see a person or vehicle at least.
Note that aside from safety purposes, in some states, using high beams above certain distances or when you shouldn’t is illegal. And doing so can attract heavy fines.
Don’t use high beams in stop-and-go traffic.
In congested traffic, vehicles are usually much closer than when driving on free/highways. So to avoid blinding other drivers in the traffic, switch to low beams. Too many lights are already shining on people’s faces, don’t add to it.
A blinded driver will take time to regain himself before he can even move, delaying other drivers behind him. There is already traffic, don’t cause another between certain cars.
Don’t use high beams in adverse weather conditions
Avoid using high beams in heavy rain, snow, or when it is foggy. In these conditions, high beams will shine directly on these elements, causing the light to reflect back to you. Invariably causing a glaring vision and making it difficult to see the road properly.
Read Also: How to Clear Yellow Headlights?
Frequently Asked Questions—FAQs
Q: What is the rule for headlight’s high beams?
While high beams help improve visibility, it must be done correctly to avoid blinding others or yourself. So here are the rules for using high beams. Use your high-beam headlights at night, so you can properly see the road you’re driving. High beams can keep the road bright for about 350-400 feet.
Secondly, state laws recommend keeping certain distances when using it. Generally, high beams must not be used within 200-500 feet of a vehicle approaching or within 200-300 feet of another vehicle you’re behind. This distance, however, differs from state to state.
Please check with your local DMV to know the exact distance required by your state. Thirdly, high-beam headlights must not be used during adverse weather conditions. When the light shines on fog, rain, or snow, its reflection bounces back, causing a flash and not making you see the road properly.
Q: Can I use high beams on highways?
High beams can be used on highways at night to illuminate the surrounding, giving you better visibility. That way, you could easily see bends ahead, street signs, and even animals that unexpectedly cross your way. Typically, using high beams when taking high speeds is very safe as it gives you an extended viewing range to quickly see what’s in front and stop timely.
However, while driving at night with high beams improves safety, it could also be dangerous if done incorrectly. So when using high beams on highways, ensure no cars are approaching or in front of you. And if there are, quickly dim your light to avoid blinding other drivers. Also, avoid using high beams in severe weather to prevent self-blindness.
Q: When should you use high beams in Florida?
When to use high beams differs from state to state. For example, high-beam headlights must not be used within Florida if your vehicle is less than 500 feet from an oncoming vehicle. Also, if your vehicle is within 300 feet from the vehicle in front, switch to low beams.
Understand that while doing this is to ensure safety, it is also a law. Which means doing otherwise is illegal and can attract a huge fine. Therefore while keeping safety measures, you are also keeping your wallet free from unnecessary expenses.
Q: Can you drive with high beams during the day?
High beams are meant to give better visibility when visibility is low—low visibility is evident when it’s dark. And understandably, during the day, you have natural lights to make you see everything ahead. So apparently, you shouldn’t use high beams during the day.
However, while high beams should be used at night, there are occasions when it may become necessary to drive with high beams during the day. For example, for those up on the coastal plain and approaching the desert, the breeze might push dust and sand, invariably reducing visibility. Hence, it becomes necessary to use high beams. But switch to low beams when you get to the outskirts of town.
If you feel cars and other road users don’t notice your car quickly during the day, use low beams for safety. Understand that using high beams when you shouldn’t is illegal and attracts fines in some states. So whether you can drive with high beams during the day depends on your state laws.
Instead of using high beams during the day because your low beams are long gone, fix the low beams to avoid putting yourself at risk. Here’s a well-detailed article on how to diagnose and fix headlight issues at home.
Q: In what 2 situations should you not use your high beams?
You should never use your high beams when driving in heavy rain, snow or when it’s foggy. The light in any of these conditions will reflect back to your eyes, causing a glare that will prevent you from properly seeing the road.
Secondly, High beams must not be used within 200-500 feet from an oncoming vehicle or 200-300 feet behind another vehicle. As these may make you blind or dazzle other drivers. Though the required distances on when not to use high beams differ from state to state. So check with your local DMV on your state requirements.
In both situations, if it’s really dark and you need visibility, you can use your low beams. Low beams may provide light to illuminate from 200-300 feet, allowing you to drive safely. But ensure you’re maintaining lower speeds. Low beams at high speed are dangerous as visibility range is usually low. So you may not quickly see an object and end up hitting them.
Q: At what distance should you use high beams
High beams should be used when an oncoming vehicle is within 200-500 feet away from yours or 200-300 feet from the vehicle you’re following. However, the distance at which high beams should be used differs from state to state.
So check with your local DMV for your state requirements. For example, in Florida, high beams should be used at a distance of 500 feet, whether between you and an oncoming vehicle or the one in front.
Q: Is it illegal to drive around with high beams?
It is not illegal to drive around with high beams. However, there are circumstances in which you should use it. High beams should not be used within 200-500 feet of oncoming traffic. If you are within 300 feet behind another vehicle, switch to low beam.
High beams should also be used at night when you cannot see properly, though there are exceptions for use during the day. Understand there are state laws guiding the use of high beams. It is illegal if not used at the right time or within the required distance and can attract huge fines.
Q: Why high beams of light should be used on highways?
Using high beams on highways increases safety more than using low beams. High beams let you see up to 350-400 feet ahead. That way, you can easily spot an object in front, giving you enough time to stop even at speed.
Using low beams at high speeds—above 25 mph is dangerous as it doesn’t give you enough viewing range. So chances are you may hit an object before you can stop since your view range is limited. So if you’re driving above 25 mph, switch to high beams. How to turn on high beams?
Locate your blinker shifter and push away till you feel it clicked in place. If done correctly, you should see the high beam light on your car’s dashboard. To turn off high beam, pull the same blinker shifter towards you.
Q: Can you use high beams in fog?
Can you? Yes, you can; many people would try it. So the right question is, should you use high beams in fog? No, you shouldn’t. When high beams meet with fog, it sends the light reflection back to you, causing blindness.
This would not allow you to see properly, inevitably leading to a crash. If the weather is foul, but you need lighting, use your low beams. It can illuminate your environment up to 200 feet.
Q: When must you use a high-beam headlight during the day?
While high beams are recommended for use at night, there are circumstances where it becomes essential during the day. Use high beams if you are driving in the street with so many intersections, and you want people to easily see your vehicle to avoid being run into.
If you drive in coastal areas or deserts where the breeze whips sand or dust over the place, you can use high beams to improve visibility. However, ensure it corresponds with your state law. Using high beams when it is illegal can attract hefty fines.
High beam lights must not be used within 200-500 feet of oncoming traffic or 200-300 feet from the vehicle you’re following. This is important to avoid blinding other drivers, thus preventing crashes. High beams must also not be used during adverse weather conditions as this could blind you, leading to a crash.
Typically, one can use high beams at night both in rural and urban areas when there are fewer or no vehicle around, and the weather is fair. And switch to low beams if the distance between you and an oncoming vehicle is less than 200-500 feet, or the distance between you and the car in front is less than 200-300 feet.