How Do You Properly Use High Beams?


Quick Answer

Properly use high beams by only turning them on in locations where there is insufficient roadside lighting, such as on rural back roads. Keep speed in mind when determining whether to use headlights. At low speeds, regular headlights illuminate enough of the road to stop safely. When traveling at high speeds, however, high beams may be necessary to fully illuminate a car's stopping distance.

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Full Answer

When traveling below 30 miles per hour, an average car requires about 200 feet of stopping distance. Most regular car headlamps illuminate about 200 feet in front of the car, meaning that stopping safely at low speeds only requires low beams. Traveling at the common speed of 55 mph, however, requires 350 to 400 feet of stopping space, which is roughly how far in front of a car high beams illuminate the road surface.

Keep other drivers in mind when using your high beams. Always turn your high beams off when approaching another vehicle from behind or from the opposite side of the road. Leaving high beams on in these situations is not only inconsiderate, it can be dangerous if it impairs the other driver's vision.

While it may be tempting to use high beams in foggy or snowy conditions, doing so actually reduces visibility. This happens because the light-colored fog or snow reflects light back into the cabin, making it more difficult to see in front of the vehicle.

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