The use of dipped headlights at night is compulsory on all unlit roads. On roads with street lighting, you should use a minimum of sidelights but dipped headlights are better. Don’t make the mistake of relying on ‘daytime running lights’ if your car has them; they’re actually quite bright and can dazzle other road users at night.
Don’t wait for others to lead the way when it comes to lighting up your vehicle, once light begins to fade then switch on to make sure that others can clearly see you. Remember, the headlights are not just there to help you see, but to help others to see you!
You should also use dipped headlights on fast dual-carriageways and motorways, even when they’re brightly lit.
You should switch headlights onto main beam when you are driving on unlit roads; or to briefly illuminate dark areas on any road, providing you won’t dazzle other road users. You would normally do this by pushing the indicator or headlight lever forwards. Pull it back to turn them off.
When driving on main beam, keep a lookout for oncoming traffic, and vehicles which you may be gaining on; be ready to dip your lights to avoid dazzling anyone. Make sure you have a good look well ahead before you dip to ensure you’re aware of what lies ahead.
When your main beam is turned on, the green light on your dashboard will be replaced by a blue one.
If you’re about to be overtaken while driving on main beam, leave the beam on long enough to help the other driver get a good view of the road ahead, but be ready to dip as soon as they start passing you. If you’re the one doing the overtaking, make sure you don’t turn your main beam back on too early and dazzle the driver you’re passing.
One thing drivers tend to forget when using main beam, is that the lights will dazzle anyone in their path; including pedestrians, cyclists and anyone else who you may encounter. Show them the same courtesy you would to other drivers and dip until you’re past them.
The Headlight Flasher
The headlight flasher is without doubt the most misused control on the car. It’s designed to be used as a warning device, just like sounding the horn. It comes into its most useful period at night during the hours of II.30 pm and 7 am when it would be against the law to sound the horn in a built up area.
Unfortunately most people misinterpret a flash of lights as a signal to go ahead; and sometimes with disastrous consequences. Because of this, you need to be very careful about when and how you flash your lights. It can be useful though in certain situations, such as on the approach to blind corners or narrow places in the road when you’re not sure whether anything could be coming the other way. A quick flash of your lights will warn other people that you’re approaching. In all other situations, think twice before you flash your lights to warn someone at night.