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Leave a light on: the dos and don’ts of using headlights


On May 10, 2019, drivers across Australia are urged to turn their headlights on to show their commitment to road safety. The national campaign, Shine a Light on Road Safety is an important community event to highlight how we all play a part in in keeping our roads safe. When you go to turn your lights on, do you know the correct ways to safely use them?

General use of headlights

While it’s not law, turning your headlights on during daylight hours can help improve your safety by ensuring you’re seen by others using the road.

Once dark, you must ensure that your headlights are always turned on while driving. At dusk, dawn or in bad weather, when there’s not enough sunlight to see a person at a distance of around 100 metres, you also need to turn your headlights on.

Fog lights

Fog lights are installed in cars to help improve visibility in fog, rain, mist, smoke or dust. Used in normal conditions, they can temporarily blind oncoming drivers or they can also cause rear-end accidents as people mistake them for bright red brake lights. For these reasons, it’s illegal across Australia to use fog lights in normal driving conditions. Penalties for using fog lights in normal conditions does vary between states.

High beams

Using high beam lights can help improve vision in dark situations, but they can’t be used if you’re driving 200 metres behind a vehicle or if an oncoming vehicle is less than 200 metres away.

Don’t dazzle

It’s important to avoid using headlights that may ‘dazzle’ other motorists, this includes flashing your headlights at oncoming traffic. If you’re driving and you’re dazzled by oncoming lights, look to the left side of the road and slow down or pull over until you can see clearly again.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: May 8, 2019.

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