Operating Your Car

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Lesson 13: How to Use High Beams Properly

Lesson 13: How to Use High Beams Properly

There are different light settings on most cars, and teen drivers need to know how to use them properly.

1. When you should turn headlights on
Headlights should always be on at night. What about during the day? Best safety practices (and some state laws) require headlights to be on during the day, when it rains, in reduced visibility situations or in work zones. Check your state’s laws for specific requirements.

2. Reacting to high beams
How many times have you been blinded because someone was driving toward you with the high beams (brights) on? When those high beams hit your eyes, you know what to do and how to handle the situation. Does your teen?

3. Practice night driving with your teen
When driving at night, show teens how to use the high beams to improve visibility on a dark road, when to turn them off (like cresting over a hill or during a turn) and show them how to use the brights to signal to another driver who is approaching without dimming their high beams.

Advise teens that if an oncoming vehicle does not dim their high beams, one way to avoid being temporarily blinded is to slow down and use the right side of the road as a guide until the car passes. Teens should be able to see a painted line or the edge of the road.

4. Special conditions
What about fog or snow—is your car equipped with fog lamps? Fog lamps are often suggested to help in these low-visibility situations. Never use high beams in snow, fog or heavy rain—the light can reflect back into the driver’s eyes and reduce visibility.

Practice driving with your teen in a variety of these situations so they can learn to use their lights properly. If they can’t see, tell them it is okay to pull over on the side of the road. Advise them to keep their lights on, or to turn on the hazard lights, so other drivers can see the car.