Head lights: don’t be left in the dark this autumn 0

To be able to see the road ahead is the most important aspect of driving. The ability to avoid danger and stop safely is a necessity for all motorists, especially when driving when it’s dark.


As we move into autumn, your headlights play much more of an important role in your day to day driving so it’s worth making sure they’re in the best possible condition. Here are a few things to bear in mind when checking your beams.

Checking the lights

Frequently check that all your lights are functioning properly. Take time to check each light one-by-one with a companion. Check your headlights, sidelights, fog lights, indicators, brake lights, reverse lights, hazard warning lights and don’t forget the often neglected number plate lights.

Alternatively, if you’re alone, park near a reflective surface such as a garage door or even other cars. Illuminate all lights in sequence and watch for the reflections.

Using the lights

When you’re travelling on roads not illuminated by street lighting, visibility will be limited to what your headlights can offer. When on dipped beam, this will give you around 45 metres, just about enough visibility range to emergency stop in a 50mph zone. It’s a thin margin, so watch your speed when driving on dipped beams.

When you’re driving during the dark hours, lights are how motorists learn of each other’s presence. Always remain vigilant for approaching lights, especially when driving round corners. Adjust the position of your vehicle to take into account other motorists and dip your lights accordingly to avoid dazzling them.

If approaching drivers forget to dim their own lights, slow down and concentrate on the road surface so your eyes are given time to adjust. Staying on full beam yourself in retaliation, simply places you in danger by dazzling other drivers.

Speed is hard to gauge in the dark so be extra careful when performing a manoeuvre and always allow traffic time to pass when waiting at a junction.

The weather will be the judge as to what lights you need to use. Use your fog lights only when you absolutely need them as they can ‘mask’ your brake lights – leaving drivers with minimal time to react. Switch them on only if your visibility drops below 100 metres. Leaving them on when there’s no fog is both dangerous and an offense.

A useful rule of thumb is to turn on dipped headlights during rain and poor light; basically, if you’re using your wipers – use your dipped headlights.

Most important – Always make sure your eyes are using full beam!