Question Topic: Rules of the road
What are dipped headlights?
‘Dipped’, or ‘low’ beam headlights are the headlights we most use commonly when driving in low light conditions. When your headlights are on, you might assume that they point straight ahead, but in fact, they are intentionally angled downwards, at the road. This prevents them from dazzling the drivers (and passengers) of oncoming traffic. In contrast, we also have access to main or full beam headlights when driving at night; these shine straight ahead at a higher level to dipped headlights and are intended to fully illuminate the entire road on unlit routes. In order to avoid causing dangerous glare to other drivers, main beam headlights must be used with care and consideration, and should be turned off, or dipped, when passing another vehicle on a dark route. They should not be used when you are being followed, or you are following another vehicle in order to avoid dazzling other drivers with light reflected from their rear view or wing mirrors.
Why should you dip your headlights on well-lit roads at night?
Using dipped beams is best practice when visibility is seriously reduced. This is because dipped headlights improve your visibility to others whilst minimising and mitigating the risks of glare.
Theory Test Question
So, what answer would you give to the the theory test question? Let’s take each answer in turn:
You can switch to main beam quickly
Wrong! You should not use your full beam in built-up areas as driving with dipped headlights improves your visibility to others.
You can go at a much faster speed
Wrong! You should drive at a safe speed based on the driving conditions and within the speed limit and should not drive fast through a built-up area.
You can be easily seen by others
Correct! Driving with dipped headlights is considered best practice to improve visibility. All other road users and pedestrians will be better able to see you with dipped headlights. Sidelights are not as bright and full beam could make it difficult for other drivers to see you as well.
You can see further along the road
Wrong! As the road is well lit, you will not need your full beam to see further along it. Dipped lights will also improve your visibility to others who you will be more likely to meet in built-up areas.
Highway Code References
Rule 226 and Points 113-116 of the UK Highway Code relate to lighting requirements and stipulate rules that drivers must observe, including the following:
Requires drivers to use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when this is more than 100 metres (328 feet).
States that drivers must not ‘use lights in any way which would dazzle of cause discomfort to other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.’
States that ‘dipped headlights must be used (dim-dipped where fitted) at night in built-up areas and in dull daytime weather’ to ensure that your vehicle can be seen and that headlights must be ‘dipped when overtaking until you are level with the other vehicle and then changed to main beam (if necessary)’, except where this risks dazzling oncoming road users. If dazzled by oncoming headlights, drivers are advised to slow down or stop their vehicle.