Knowing when to use your high beams while driving is crucial for your safety and the safety of others on the road. High beams are designed to provide better visibility in low light conditions, but misusing them can lead to accidents and potential liability.

In most cases, you should only turn on high beams when driving in rural areas with little to no other traffic. Failing to use high beams when needed or turning them off when approaching another driver can cause a collision. Understanding when to use your high beams is vital to keeping yourself and others safe on the road.

What High Beams Can and Can’t Do

High beams, or brights, are designed to provide greater illumination and visibility while driving in low-light conditions, such as at night or in inclement weather. They emit brighter, more intense light that directs light farther and higher than low beams. This allows drivers to see an extended distance ahead, typically about 300 to 500 feet, to improve visibility.

While high beams help motorists when driving at night, they can be a liability for drivers. The light from your high beams causes glare for other motorists, reducing their ability to see the road. This can cause swerving, sudden braking, or the inability to see obstacles like guard rails, other cars, animals, or signposts, leading to a crash.

When to Use Your High Beams

There are several driving scenarios where turning on your lights can improve your safety on the road. Use your high beams in the following situations:

  • Rural or unlit roads: High beams can be helpful on rural roads or roads with little to no street lighting. They can help you see farther ahead, allowing you to spot potential hazards such as animals, pedestrians, or debris.
  • Open highways: Using high beams on open highways with considerable distance between vehicles can help you maintain a clear view of the road and the surrounding area. However, always remember to switch back to low beams when approaching other vehicles.
  • Construction zones: When driving through construction zones at night, high beams can help you better see the road markings, barriers, and construction equipment. Be cautious and switch to low beams when workers or other drivers are nearby.
  • Poorly lit intersections: Using your high beams momentarily at poorly lit intersections with no oncoming vehicles or pedestrians can improve visibility and help you safely navigate the area.
  • Spotting road signs: High beams can help you see road signs and directions more clearly in low-light conditions such as rain or poorly lit areas. Using them momentarily can ensure you don’t miss important information while driving.

When to Turn Your Brights Off

When using your brights, you must know when to turn them off to avoid impairing another driver’s vision. You may be liable for the collision if you misuse your high beams and cause an accident.

Turn off or avoid using your brights in the following situations:

  • When cars approach you: If you see an oncoming vehicle, switch to low beams when the vehicle is within 500 feet of your car. This avoids blinding the other driver and prevents a potential crash.
  • On curves: As you approach a turn, switch to low beams to avoid blinding oncoming traffic that the curve might hide.
  • Going up hills: When driving uphill, the angle of your high beams may shine directly into the eyes of drivers coming down the hill. Since their beams don’t reach as far, switching to your standard lights can prevent a collision.
  • At intersections and stop signs: Intersections require drivers to see clearly in all directions. To ensure you don’t blind other drivers, switch to low beams when approaching intersections and stop signs.
  • In fog: Never use your high beams in foggy weather. In fog, light reflects off the moisture particles, creating a glare that heavily impairs vision. Use low beams or fog lights if your vehicle is equipped with them.

Drive Safely and Know When to Use High Beams

If you are involved in a collision due to the improper use of high beams, the Indiana car crash attorneys at Wagner Reese can help you get compensation. Our skilled attorneys will investigate your accident to determine if another driver’s high beam use caused your crash and seek a settlement from their insurer.

Contact our legal team today for a free case review to learn your legal options.