When Should You Use Your High Beam Headlights?

When Should You Use Your High Beam Headlights?

When Should You Use Your High Beam Headlights?

In the right circumstances, high beam headlights can make driving safer for everyone on the road. But when used incorrectly, high beam headlights can be a major safety hazard. Knowing how and when you use your high beams is crucial for every driver.

What are high beams?

High beam headlights give you the option to make your headlights brighter. They're sometimes called main beam headlights, and your standard headlights are called dipped beam or low beam. Most vehicles have a knob on or near the steering wheel that's used to turn on both dipped and high beam headlights.

In some cars, high beams use a separate bulb from low beam headlights. Other bulbs contain two filaments in the same bulb: one for the high beam and the other for the dipped beam.

When your high beams are on, you'll notice immediately that your headlights are brighter. They may also illuminate a larger area, allowing you to see more of the road ahead. This is extremely useful in some situations.

When to use your high beam

High beam headlights are ideal when driving at night in a poorly-lit area. Your dipped beams are usually bright enough in the city, where there are plenty of streetlights, but may not be sufficient on country roads. Without streetlights, it can be difficult to see far enough ahead to avoid obstacles like pedestrians, bumps in the road, or wild animals.

You can also use high beams on empty roads simply to see better. As long as there are no other cars around, it usually doesn't hurt to turn on your high beams. Just remember to turn them off if another vehicle is passing or in front of you.

When not to use your high beam

Although high beams can help drivers on the open road at night, there are times when using your high beams is unsafe. Any time you're around other cars, it's generally a bad idea to turn them on.

Main beams are so much brighter than dipped beam and so have the potential to dazzle other drivers. When passing, or driving behind another driver, always turn off your high beam to avoid blinding others on the road.

Dipped beam headlights point towards the ground - hence, the name. They're designed this way so that they illuminate the road without shining in the eyes of other drivers. High beams, however, point straight ahead. This allows you to see farther ahead, but it means that high beams can blind oncoming traffic. The light can also reflect off other drivers' rear view mirrors and blind them.

Using high beam headlights isn't a good idea in the snow, rain, or fog either. The light from your headlights reflects off the moisture in the air and actually makes it harder to see. Even dipped beams can be dangerous in the fog - that's why your vehicle has fog lights.

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