How to Use Car Lights for Communication and Safety | Scott Goodwin Law

How to Use Car Lights for Communication and Safety

by / Monday, 03 February 2020 / Published in Motor Vehicle Accidents, Tips
Cars driving with headlights on at nighttime

Whether you’re driving at night or during the daytime, the lights on your car play a very valuable role in protecting you and other drivers on the road. Not only can they help you see better, they can provide other drivers with the information that can help them prevent a car crash. We all get an introduction to the various types of automotive lights during driver’s education, but it never hurts to take some time every now and then to remind ourselves of how to properly use them.

Here’s what you need to know about some of the most common types of automotive lights and how to use them properly.

Low Beams, High Beams, and Fog Lights

Headlights have two main settings: low beams and high beams. Each of these modes serves a specific purpose and, for your headlights to be used safely and effectively, it’s important to understand when each should be used.

Low beams project a light that illuminates about 200-300 feet in front of the vehicle, while high beams are more intense, providing enough light to illuminate about 350-500 feet in front of the car. But while it might seem counterintuitive, using your high beams to produce more light does not necessarily improve safety. Since high beams are so much brighter than low beams, they can produce glare that makes it difficult for other drivers to see. In rainy and foggy conditions, the extra light high beams produce can reflect off the particles of water in the air and reduce your visibility even further.

In most situations, low beams are the most appropriate headlight option for driving at night and at other times when light is reduced, such as on rainy or foggy days. This is particularly true when driving at night in well-lit areas such as urban environments. High beams are best saved for night driving on rural roads that aren’t illuminated by streetlights and when there is no other traffic nearby. If a car has fog lights, they can provide extra light in foggy conditions without reducing visibility because they are placed lower than high beams.

Tail Lights, Brake Lights, and Backup Lights

The lights found at the back of a car can provide a lot of crucial information that other drivers need. Tail lights help make you more visible to cars following you while brake lights notify other drivers that you’re slowing down or coming to a stop and backup lights let others know that your car is in reverse.

Because of how important these lights are for road safety, it’s a very good idea to routinely check them as part of your regular maintenance. If you’ll be visiting a mechanic anyway, you can have them check them for you, but you can easily check them at home. Simply have someone else stand behind your car while you activate each light.

Signal Lights

As you turn corners and change lanes, turn signals help other drivers be aware of what you’re planning to do. They’re also a very important tool to help prevent car accidents. One study by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) from 2012 found that approximately 2 million car accidents are caused each year by people failing to use their turn signals. Make sure you know when turn signals are supposed to be used in Michigan.

Hazard Lights

Nobody ever wants to have their car break down while they’re on the road, but it’s something that happens to numerous drivers every year. If you find yourself in this situation, using your hazard lights lets other drivers know that you’re having problems. Hazard lights can also be used to warn other drivers about dangerous conditions ahead, such as debris in the road, or if there is a funeral procession ahead of them.

Sometimes, car accidents happen despite your best efforts to be a safe driver. If you find yourself injured after a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer who is experienced in helping the victims of Michigan car accidents. Contact us today for help with your case.


Image credit: iStock/Montypeter