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Types of Vehicle Lights and How to Use Them

Monday, April 17, 2017
Mark C
Proper usage of LED light

How much do you remember from your Driver’s Ed class? If the answer is, “Not much,” you’re not alone. More disturbing still, what do you remember from the driving test you took to obtain your license? Do you remember all the different types of lights on your car and how to properly use them? You knew them once for the test (otherwise you would not be driving today), but, here is a simple refresher to increase your safety on the road.


What are the different types of car lights and how should I use them?

Car lights are designed for two functions - to assist the driver and to communicate with other drivers. Accidents are more likely to occur when motorists fail to practice proper use of their lights. This makes it absolutely crucial to identify all your lights and use them correctly. The lights available to you on your vehicle are as follows:


  • Headlights: Low and high beams headlights are available on every modern vehicle. These lights serve both functions of car lights - they light the road for the driver while alerting other drivers to the car’s presence on the road. Your low beams lights give adequate lateral and forward lighting without blinding oncoming traffic. High beams are extremely bright headlights useful for illuminating particularly dark and/or unlit roads; however, high beams should only be used when there are no cars coming towards you or driving right in front of you.
  • Tail lights: Tail lights are the red lights on the back of a car which light up whenever the headlights are on. These lights are designed to make you visible to cars behind you and help them recognize the distance between your cars.
  • Daytime running lights: These lights are installed on most newer vehicles and located on the front and rear of your car. These lights turn on automatically to provide enhanced visibility during daytime hours. In some vehicles, you do have the option to turn off your daytime running lights. There is some debate about whether these lights improve safety measures or if they are actually distracting to oncoming vehicles.
  • Fog lights: Fog lights are usually installed near and below the headlights. Your other lights will refract on the fog creating a wall of light through which a driver cannot see. Fog lights should only be used in thick fog.
  • Signal lights: Located in the front and back corners of the car, these lights are also referred to as turn signals or “blinkers.” These lights should be used to communicate with other drivers about where you intend to move. If you change lanes, the proper signal will warn the vehicles in your lane and the vehicles already in the lane you wish to enter that you are moving.
  • Brake lights: The drivers behind you need to know when you’re slowing down and your brake lights, located on the rear of your car, brighten when you press your brake pedal. These lights only illuminate when you’re slowing down, so, there’s no chance for misuse. If your brake lights are not maintained to optimum functionality (i.e. a light burns out), the likelihood of accidents increase.
  • Hazard lights: These lights blink at the front and rear corners of your car. When you press the button to start the pulse of your hazards, the intention is to warn other drivers that you’re experiencing a problem that may prohibit your ability to drive predictably. These lights should only be used to indicate distress (or presence in a funeral line). Never use hazards as a stop signal or to park illegally.
  • Driving lamps: These are your interior lights to help you find items in the dark or light the passenger seat. Driving lamps should not be used for extended periods of time.



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