Cars have a lot of lights to deal with. How do I know which ones I should use when?

Your little girl starts driver’s lessons next month and you’re terrified. It isn’t that you’re worried she can’t handle it; it’s more the fact that you don’t trust any other driver to watch out for your baby. You know how important it is for her to be prepared, so you decided to take it upon yourself to teach her the basics while safely parked in the garage.

The first lesson…lights. Although lights should be easy (as indicated by your daughter’s rolling eyes at the news of the first lesson), not everyone is fully aware of how important it is to use the right lights at the right time. Some people aren’t even aware of all the lights cars have. You want to make sure she is not one of those people.

So, where should you begin? Unfortunately, many drivers “forget” these skills once they’ve taken the test. Not only does this put their own lives in danger, but the lives of fellow motorists as well.

A car’s various lights have specific functions to either help the driver or to signal to other drivers. When used improperly, or not at all, accidents can happen. This is why it is extremely important to be able to recognize the different lamps and know when to use them.

Car lights include:

  • Headlights. There are two types of headlights—low beam and high beam. These lights allow the driver to see the roadway in the dark, while also signalling to other motorists that a car is present. Low beams provide a light distribution to give adequate forward and lateral illumination without blinding other road users with excessive glare. High beams provide an intense, centre-weighted distribution of light with no particular control of glare and should only be used when there are no visible cars in front of you (coming or going).

When using main beams (driving beams), drivers should be careful not to dazzle others. The use of main beams is completely prohibited on roads with satisfactory lighting. The following tips help you use main beams correctly and minimise the dark blind spots:

  1. When encountering an oncoming vehicle: Switch to dipped beams (passing beams) when the beams of your vehicle and the oncoming vehicle meet. This minimises the blind spot between the vehicles.  
  2. When parallel to an oncoming vehicle: Switch back to main beams just before reaching the oncoming vehicle or, at the latest, when parallel to the vehicle. This gives you immediately full visibility ahead. 

      3.  When catching up a vehicle: Switch to dipped beams when you see the outline of the vehicle ahead, not just the taillights.

  • Taillights. Taillights are required to produce only red light at the rear of the vehicle and are wired such that they are lit whenever the headlights are on. This helps drivers who are travelling behind you to recognize that you’re there and how far ahead you are.
  • Daytime running lights. These lights are located in both the front and rear of the car and generally turn on automatically; although in some cars you do have an option to turn them off. They are designed to make you more visible to other vehicles, but some drivers find them distracting in oncoming cars.
  • Fog lights. Located near the headlights, these lights and are generally mounted low to prevent the light from refracting on the fog and glaring back toward you (the driver). These should only be used during fog when normal headlights are not effective.
  • Signal lights. Also known as turn signals or “indicators” these are located in the front and back of the car, beside the head and tail lights. When activated, they indicate to other drivers that you’ll soon be turning (in the indicated direction of the signal) and will most likely be slowing down to do so.
  • Brake lights. Located to the side of your rear lights, they signal drivers that you’re slowing down or stopping. Since they’re only activated when you apply the brakes you don’t need to worry about misusing them. However, you do have to make sure they are properly maintained and do not burn out.
  • Hazard lights. Also known as flashers, they are located in the front and back of the vehicle. When turned on they admit a flashing signal to warn other drivers that you’re experiencing a problem, are in distress, or warning of immediate danger (rocks in the road, slow funeral procession). They should only be used as warnings of distress or traffic problems—never as stop signals or illegal parking permits.
  • Driving lamps. These are located inside the cab of your vehicle and are used to brighten the cab for the passenger or driver to safely check maps or directions, or locate items in the dark. They should never be used for long periods.

Driving lights

It is important to know that driving lights and sidelights are not suitable after dark. Once it gets dark, or even on a very dull day, regular headlights and sidelights should also be used. These are the first position on most headlight switches. While you can be seen with driving lights in general daytime conditions, they’re not bright enough as soon as the lighting changes.

Using your lights at night

The primary use of car headlights is based on darkness. But darkness can be subjective and there are several factors at play. Firstly, what one person considers dark, another may think is still quite light. This means when one person turns on their main headlights, another may feel sidelights are still fine. The key is to make sure you are seen as well as being able to see the road, so if in doubt, turn on the main headlights.

Using automatic lights

A lot of newer cars have automatic headlights. They use a sensor to automatically turn on the lights when it gets dark. They do vary in sensitivity so it is important to quickly check that your lights are on if you feel it is getting dark. The dashboard symbol will come on as usual so you can tell when they turn on. You can always override them too, and turn your lights on manually.

Using your lights when there’s fog

How much fog makes it officially foggy? At what point is it right to turn on your fog lights? All cars will have a rear fog light and the button shows a lamp with a wiggly line in front of it. Some cars will also have front fog lights. As a general rule, the front fog light button will have the light pointing the same way as it does on the headlight switch.

The Highway Code states you should use your rear fog light if you cannot see more than 100m beyond your car. The best way to measure this is to use the car in front; if you are struggling to see their rear lights, then turn your fog lights on. It is important to remember though that it is illegal to use fog lights when it is not needed.

Using your lights in wet weather

In Zimbabwe, we see our fair share of rain and storms! Falling rain and spray from standing water both affect visibility. The simple rule of thumb when it comes to using lights in bad weather is to turn on your main lights. There are some cases of highway spray where it is so bad that you may need to use the rear fog light. As mentioned above, if you can’t see the car in front of you, then the car behind can’t see you – and then it’s time to turn on your main lights.

Using your lights for heavy loads

Most cars will have a small dial next to the lights that change their angle if the car is heavily loaded or towing. The car will lean back and point up, so normal lights could dazzle drivers. Get a friend to help test this and set them up correctly if this will apply to you.

FOR SAFE RELIABLE MOTORING….. Car Problems and Solutions.

You are driving along the highway one day when you find your vehicle slowing down and eventually coming to a halt. You step out of your vehicle to find out what the problem is, but you can’t seem to figure out where the car defects are and what is the cause of these sudden malfunctions. Even the most skilled and competent vehicle owner will experience his fair share of mechanical issues and car problems.

The list of car faults is endless – from flat tyres, unstable steering wheels, and even a faulty engine, there are minor and major car issues that you might or might not be able to resolve on your own.

Reaching the destination safely is the best reward for any motorist! Should you encounter any motoring issues, remember that Drive Zimbabwe Roadside Assistance provides 24/7 Roadside Assistance Service for our Members and the motoring community. Whilst it’s possible to reduce your risk of breakdown, it’s an unfortunate reality that even the most expertly maintained and superbly driven vehicle may break down due to unforeseen circumstances. In these instances, Drive Zimbabwe Roadside Assistance breakdown cover can make all the difference. Call us or  Whatsapp at 0780 579 261/0718 084 297 / 0736 523 424 Email:info@drivezim.co.zw and Join Today. Follow us on  Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/105600827733427  and Twitter https://mobile.twitter.com/DriveZimbabwe  for more tips and guidance on how to keep yourself and your vehicle safe on the roads.

Cars have a lot of lights to deal with. How do I know which ones I should use when?

Your little girl starts driver’s lessons next month and you’re terrified. It isn’t that you’re worried she can’t handle it; it’s more the fact that you don’t trust any other driver to watch out for your baby. You know how important it is for her to be prepared, so you decided to take it upon yourself to teach her the basics while safely parked in the garage.

The first lesson…lights. Although lights should be easy (as indicated by your daughter’s rolling eyes at the news of the first lesson), not everyone is fully aware of how important it is to use the right lights at the right time. Some people aren’t even aware of all the lights cars have. You want to make sure she is not one of those people.

So, where should you begin? Unfortunately, many drivers “forget” these skills once they’ve taken the test. Not only does this put their own lives in danger, but the lives of fellow motorists as well.

A car’s various lights have specific functions to either help the driver or to signal to other drivers. When used improperly, or not at all, accidents can happen. This is why it is extremely important to be able to recognize the different lamps and know when to use them.

Car lights include:

  • Headlights. There are two types of headlights—low beam and high beam. These lights allow the driver to see the roadway in the dark, while also signalling to other motorists that a car is present. Low beams provide a light distribution to give adequate forward and lateral illumination without blinding other road users with excessive glare. High beams provide an intense, centre-weighted distribution of light with no particular control of glare and should only be used when there are no visible cars in front of you (coming or going).

When using main beams (driving beams), drivers should be careful not to dazzle others. The use of main beams is completely prohibited on roads with satisfactory lighting. The following tips help you use main beams correctly and minimise the dark blind spots:

  1. When encountering an oncoming vehicle: Switch to dipped beams (passing beams) when the beams of your vehicle and the oncoming vehicle meet. This minimises the blind spot between the vehicles.  
  2. When parallel to an oncoming vehicle: Switch back to main beams just before reaching the oncoming vehicle or, at the latest, when parallel to the vehicle. This gives you immediately full visibility ahead. 

      3.  When catching up a vehicle: Switch to dipped beams when you see the outline of the vehicle ahead, not just the taillights.

  • Taillights. Taillights are required to produce only red light at the rear of the vehicle and are wired such that they are lit whenever the headlights are on. This helps drivers who are travelling behind you to recognize that you’re there and how far ahead you are.
  • Daytime running lights. These lights are located in both the front and rear of the car and generally turn on automatically; although in some cars you do have an option to turn them off. They are designed to make you more visible to other vehicles, but some drivers find them distracting in oncoming cars.
  • Fog lights. Located near the headlights, these lights and are generally mounted low to prevent the light from refracting on the fog and glaring back toward you (the driver). These should only be used during fog when normal headlights are not effective.
  • Signal lights. Also known as turn signals or “indicators” these are located in the front and back of the car, beside the head and tail lights. When activated, they indicate to other drivers that you’ll soon be turning (in the indicated direction of the signal) and will most likely be slowing down to do so.
  • Brake lights. Located to the side of your rear lights, they signal drivers that you’re slowing down or stopping. Since they’re only activated when you apply the brakes you don’t need to worry about misusing them. However, you do have to make sure they are properly maintained and do not burn out.
  • Hazard lights. Also known as flashers, they are located in the front and back of the vehicle. When turned on they admit a flashing signal to warn other drivers that you’re experiencing a problem, are in distress, or warning of immediate danger (rocks in the road, slow funeral procession). They should only be used as warnings of distress or traffic problems—never as stop signals or illegal parking permits.
  • Driving lamps. These are located inside the cab of your vehicle and are used to brighten the cab for the passenger or driver to safely check maps or directions, or locate items in the dark. They should never be used for long periods.

Driving lights

It is important to know that driving lights and sidelights are not suitable after dark. Once it gets dark, or even on a very dull day, regular headlights and sidelights should also be used. These are the first position on most headlight switches. While you can be seen with driving lights in general daytime conditions, they’re not bright enough as soon as the lighting changes.

Using your lights at night

The primary use of car headlights is based on darkness. But darkness can be subjective and there are several factors at play. Firstly, what one person considers dark, another may think is still quite light. This means when one person turns on their main headlights, another may feel sidelights are still fine. The key is to make sure you are seen as well as being able to see the road, so if in doubt, turn on the main headlights.

Using automatic lights

A lot of newer cars have automatic headlights. They use a sensor to automatically turn on the lights when it gets dark. They do vary in sensitivity so it is important to quickly check that your lights are on if you feel it is getting dark. The dashboard symbol will come on as usual so you can tell when they turn on. You can always override them too, and turn your lights on manually.

Using your lights when there’s fog

How much fog makes it officially foggy? At what point is it right to turn on your fog lights? All cars will have a rear fog light and the button shows a lamp with a wiggly line in front of it. Some cars will also have front fog lights. As a general rule, the front fog light button will have the light pointing the same way as it does on the headlight switch.

The Highway Code states you should use your rear fog light if you cannot see more than 100m beyond your car. The best way to measure this is to use the car in front; if you are struggling to see their rear lights, then turn your fog lights on. It is important to remember though that it is illegal to use fog lights when it is not needed.

Using your lights in wet weather

In Zimbabwe, we see our fair share of rain and storms! Falling rain and spray from standing water both affect visibility. The simple rule of thumb when it comes to using lights in bad weather is to turn on your main lights. There are some cases of highway spray where it is so bad that you may need to use the rear fog light. As mentioned above, if you can’t see the car in front of you, then the car behind can’t see you – and then it’s time to turn on your main lights.

Using your lights for heavy loads

Most cars will have a small dial next to the lights that change their angle if the car is heavily loaded or towing. The car will lean back and point up, so normal lights could dazzle drivers. Get a friend to help test this and set them up correctly if this will apply to you.

FOR SAFE RELIABLE MOTORING….. Car Problems and Solutions.

You are driving along the highway one day when you find your vehicle slowing down and eventually coming to a halt. You step out of your vehicle to find out what the problem is, but you can’t seem to figure out where the car defects are and what is the cause of these sudden malfunctions. Even the most skilled and competent vehicle owner will experience his fair share of mechanical issues and car problems.

The list of car faults is endless – from flat tyres, unstable steering wheels, and even a faulty engine, there are minor and major car issues that you might or might not be able to resolve on your own.

Reaching the destination safely is the best reward for any motorist! Should you encounter any motoring issues, remember that Drive Zimbabwe Roadside Assistance provides 24/7 Roadside Assistance Service for our Members and the motoring community. Whilst it’s possible to reduce your risk of breakdown, it’s an unfortunate reality that even the most expertly maintained and superbly driven vehicle may break down due to unforeseen circumstances. In these instances, Drive Zimbabwe Roadside Assistance breakdown cover can make all the difference. Call us or  Whatsapp at 0780 579 261/0718 084 297 / 0736 523 424 Email:info@drivezim.co.zw and Join Today. Follow us on  Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/105600827733427  and Twitter https://mobile.twitter.com/DriveZimbabwe  for more tips and guidance on how to keep yourself and your vehicle safe on the roads.

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