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High Beams: Laws and Best Use Tips

When traveling at night or in areas without sufficient light, many of us switch on our high beam headlights, also commonly known as “bright lights”. These lights shine brighter than our headlights and provide the proper illumination to roadway hazards that we may not be able to see otherwise. Generally, this is the case for most drivers. However, when used improperly, high beam lights can result in a safety hazard to you and other drivers on the road.

To prevent accidents from happening, here are some best use tips to keep in mind about high beam lights on your automobile.

  • In dark areas, turn on your high beam lights to illuminate the roadway. High beam lights can illuminate the roadway three times as far as your normal headlights. In most states, it is a requirement that you turn on your high beams in dark areas where it is nearly impossible to have sight of the road.
  • When approaching an oncoming car, always lower your high beams when coming within 500 feet. (The exact distance varies from state to state.) In case a driver forgets to dim their lights, a safe way to remind them to dim their high beam lights is to quickly turn your lights on and off. When a driver fails to dim their high beams, it is a violation, which can result in a fine between 35 and 75 dollars that increases after each offense.
  • To prevent being blinded by oncoming bright lights, turn your gaze to the right side of your lane away from the lights and avoid looking directly into the oncoming high beams.
  • To prevent blinding from high beam lights directly behind you, adjust your rearview and side mirrors so light is out of your eyes. Moving them could also send a reflection to the driver behind you to alert them to turn off their high beam lights.
  • Avoid using your high beams temporarily as headlights if you have a headlight lamp out. It’s illegal to drive with a burned-out headlamp and using your high beam light as a substitute is not an option.

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