Lights in the Dark Hours: The Rulebook

Work time is usually the dark time nowadays as the heavy nights of winter set in. Therefore, this calls for extra use of vehicle lights. First up, make sure your lights are functional, and secondly, ensure you know how to use them- properly.

For example, you can’t simply go on full beam all the time while blinding other drivers and you also can’t use less than optimal lighting, as it may impair safe driving ability.

Here are the rules and regulations surrounding the use of lights on your car:

What to do during the day

This weather means that lights need to be functional and on during daylight hours too. First of all, your brake lights. Your brake lights must flash when you hit the brake to inform drivers behind you that you are stopping. However, these lights should not stay on when you are waiting in traffic as they can distract traffic behind you.

When it is foggy in the morning and evening, you need to turn your headlights and fog lights on to help you see properly. You also need to turn your dipper lights on when the weather is dull and it may cause other drivers to not be able to see you. However, all of these lights need to be turned off when visibility is clear, as you do not want to annoy other drivers.

Your sidelights should always be on in the dark, which means any time after sunset and before sunrise. This rule applies even if you are in a heavily lit area. Besides your sidelights, you also need to keep your back number plate light on. It is imperative for authorities and other drivers to be able to identify your vehicle and not having your light on can be cause for a major fine.

New European Union rules for cars made after 2011 stated that all vehicles must have functional day vehicle lights that flash on when the vehicle’s engine starts operating and then automatically go off when sidelights and headlights are turned on.

What to do during the night

If you are on the road in the wee hours of the night, your main concern is to ensure that you have enough light to see where you are going and you don’t impair other people’s vision. Your headlights must always be on at night and you must also dip them when you are right behind other people using the road. That includes pedestrians, cyclists, etc.

If the car in front of you is going too slow for your preference and you have to overtake, remember to dip your lights to avoid causing discomfort to the driver you are overtaking. You can then switch to full beam if required.

If you are driving at a speed less than 30 miles per hour and are in an area that is properly lit, all you need to do is keep your sidelights on. However, that is the legal way to go about it. Most drivers prefer to also keep their headlights on no matter where they are or what speed they are driving at. Nighttime calls for headlights!

Brake Lights and Indicator Lights

Your brake lights are extremely important as they give vehicles behind you the signal that you are about to stop. If your brake lights are not functioning properly, this does not only cause a penalty but can be highly problematic for safety purposes.

Make sure your brake lights and indicator lights are working as it is imperative to tell prevent vehicles behind you from crashing into you by telling them which direction you are going in.

Having faulty lights can result in a £60 penalty with three negative points on your license, a Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice that obligates you to fix the lights within 14 days and report to authorities, or getting your car shut down temporarily until you fix the lights.

Other lights

There are other lights that you must be mindful of which include hazard lights and fog lights. Hazard lights are ideal for vehicles that are not moving and need to inform passersby and other drivers of a hazardous situation. They are also called emergency lights. Therefore, if you run out of fuel, your car breaks down, or a driver is unwell and has to stop the vehicle on the side of the road, hazard lights need to be switched on.

However, please do not use hazard lights to park in an illegal spot and leave your car unattended.

In this foggy weather, you need extra protection which means that your fog lights need to be switched on when your vision is impaired due to the fog. There is no legal requirement for this but you are legally required to turn them off when visibility is clear and the sun is out.

If your fog lights are a nuisance to other drivers, it can result in a £50 fine.

Other things that you must stay away from are excessively tinted windows as you can get fined if your windows are not transparent enough- 75% light needs to come in from the front windscreen and 70% from side windows. Backseaters are free from the eyes of the public as backseat windows can be as dark as required.

Also be mindful of windscreen cracks as they can also result in a serious offence and significant points on your license or completely void your insurance policy. Take care of your vehicle, lights, and windows and enjoy night time drives in the winter!

As always, drive safe!

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