How to use your car lights correctly

Did you know you can use your car lights incorrectly? Sure, the various flashy lights look great, but each one has a unique role to play, from illuminating the road to letting other drivers and pedestrians see you to even communicating! So let’s dive in and go through what your car lights do and how to use them. Correctly.

Low beam

Low beam, as the name suggests, is angled low to light up the area immediately in front of the car. Therefore it should be used when you need more light but are driving in traffic. Rain, fog, or any time from sunset to sunrise are recommended times to use them. Using low beam will also activate your tail lights, making you more visible to drivers coming up behind you too!

Dark indoor car parks are also another place where the low beam should be used. Leaving your headlights on can let other drivers around a sharp corner or bend know you are there. You wouldn’t want to be unpleasantly surprised by a car round the corner!

Blinding high beam

Isn’t this…illuminating?

Angled higher than the low beam, high beams cast bright light over a much wider area. This is why the high beam is best used in no light environments like rural areas or when you need the extra long range visibility on highways. Just make sure you turn it on only when there are no cars within 100 m of you. No one likes to be blinded by the high beam!

Is that the sun?

One other instance where high beams are used has nothing to do with darkness at all. You can ‘flash’ your high beam at a car to let them know they can merge into your lane or to tell the slow moving car in front to switch lanes or speed up. So context matters!

Fog light

Another time you might use your high beam is when there is thick fog. But if your high beam is white, it has a higher chance of refracting and reflecting right back at you! That is why fog lights are generally yellow, as it is much better at penetrating thick fog and much gentler on the eyes than white light.

Fog tends to reflect the colour of the driver’s lights directly in front of their eyes. Staring at white light is already a difficult task, and having the white colour reflected back at you when you are driving might be distracting.

In the same way, looking closely at blue lights can make your sight fuzzy. Yellow lights are the only light colour most drivers can withstand in the fog. Regardless of the type of fog lights you have, remember to drive safe!

Fog accident
An example of unsafe driving

Signal aka blinkers aka indicators

Communication is important. As a driver, you can use your car’s signals to communicate with our fellow motorists. Use it. Let everyone know what you are doing. As boring as it is, be predictable.

turn signal switch
See this thing here? Yeah. Please use it.

What to do:

  1. Match the speed of the lane you are merging into.
  2. Signal in the direction you want to turn or merge for at least 3 seconds before moving. This allows the cars to maintain speed or slow down if necessary.
  3. When there is a three or more second gap, merge at the same speed as the cars in the lane you are merging into. Remember to check your blind spots!
  4. Turn off your blinker once you have merged into the lane or after completing the turn.

Read more: Blind spot mirrors: are they worth it?

DO NOT merge if unable to do so safely! And if you see someone indicating when you drive, DO NOT take this as a sign to speed up. You are not in a race.

Unsafe double lane merge
This is an excellent example of why you don’t merge dangerously

Double signal aka hazard lights

Do you use the hazard light as a so-called ‘double signal’ so people can see you in the rain or fog? If so, you should stop as that is what your tail lights are for! Hazard lights are strictly for signalling that you have a problem or you pulled over. That way the other drivers can safely avoid you.

hazard light rain
Is this guy stopping or just trying to be seen?

If you have trouble seeing your tail lights, it could be a sign your lights are malfunctioning or your battery needs a check up!

Read more: How to check your car battery

Interior car lights

Ever needed to look for something in the car and turn on the lights, only for the driver to start screaming to turn them off? Yeah these ones. Turning them on when driving at night is risky as the increased brightness can not only make it harder to see the back, but can temporarily impair night vision even when looking forward.

So what can you do?

  • Wait until the car stops somewhere safe then turn the lights on.
  • Use your phone’s flashlight function so as to not blind the driver.

Daytime running lights

Do you think this car is more visible with DRLs on? Source.

Ever noticed how some cars on the road have these little lights that are turned on all the time? Those are daytime running lights (DRLs). Required in some countries, it is claimed that DRLs “substantially increase the visibility of cars and other vehicles” while using only a fraction of the energy of regular headlights. However, research seems indicate that it does not make a difference. After all, if you have trouble seeing a car in broad daylight, you probably have other problems.

Hit by car daytime running light
It’s hard to imagine how daytime running lights can help here.

On overcast or slightly gloomier days, the lights could make enough of a difference but that doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to get one. If you are buying a new continental car, chances are it will already come with them.

If you think something is up with your headlights, come over to get your car serviced before you balik kampung for Raya! You can even give your car a fresh look with our Raya package where you can get up to 50% off on services!

If you are looking for a new ride for Raya, you find your dream car at myTukar and enjoy a Menangful Raya, with up to RM27,000 off on selected myTukar Certified cars! Not only that, you will stand to win a once-in-a-lifetime all-expense paid trip for 2 to Seoul, South Korea worth RM11,600! All you need to do is drive home the car of your dreams and you will be automatically in!

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