What is a common feature in a car but most people don’t know what it’s used for?

Do you use high or low beam lights? Many answers saying turn indicators, hazard lights, let me add the most important one, which can cause lots of problems for other people, “high-beam” headlights. The problem is most guys are not even aware of such a thing. They are just blindly using whatever the current setting is on.

Just behind your steering wheel, you’ll find this lever, if you push it away from you, you’ll start high beam (also known as upper). If you pull it towards from you to it’s natural position, it’s a low beam (also known as dipper).

If you want to give a “pass” to someone, you’ll pull it towards you. This can be used in two scenarios: you want to overtake a vehicle and tell a vehicle coming towards you to give you some space. Another is you want to tell other vehicles to lower down their headlights.

Low Beam vs. High Beam

High beam vs low beam,

The difference between high and low beams

High beams, from their name, are full lights that have a centralized distribution of brightness. They are aimed straight and parallel to the road surface, giving a conical beam because of their positioning. High beams let the driver see longer stretches of the road. That is commonly used in poorly lit areas with not too much incoming traffic.

Low beams, on the other hand, project dipped beams that point towards the ground. Its positioned in a lower position than high beam headlamps and provide less light distribution than the former. Depending on which country you are, some car models have their low beams dipping lower on one side so that it doesn’t cause any unnecessary glare to other motorists and higher on the other so the driver can still see traffic signs on the side of the road.

When to use low beam lights?

Abiding by road safety rules, it is advisable to use low beam headlights at night when there is an ample amount of light on the public streets or roads. This also holds true in case of fog, rain or snow.

When to use tail lights?

It is a mandate to use the tail lights on public roads, half an hour after the sunset as per CMV rule number 105. This also holds true when there is not an adequate amount of light to clearly identify a vehicle at a distance of 155 meters. In the latter situation, one can use low beams lights as well.

Many people who drive a car will keep on a high beam within city limits. It can blind the drivers in opposite cars for a few moments. And a lot can happen in that moment. Bikers are worst at this, many of them don’t even know where is the button to change the light to low beam mode.

Let me share a personal experience. A lady was driving behind me on a two-wheeler with that pathetic white LED light on and that too on high beam. Which was troubling me because all the lights were directly coming at my face and eyes via rearview mirrors on my bike. When I told her to lower the beam, she looked at me like I was speaking Chinese.

Fortunately, the person sitting behind her knew what I was talking about. She explained to her, but she shrugged and continued with her ignorance. And this is not just one incident. I’m sure you’ve faced many such ignorant drivers.

High beam vs low beam,

Writing down a few good manners while using the high beam.

  • Don’t at all use it within the city limits
  • Use it only on the roads where there is a different lane for oncoming traffic. Also, make sure there are sufficient trees planted on the divider. Make sure you’re not blinding traffic on the other side.
  • You may choose to use it when there is no separate lane for oncoming traffic but the traffic is almost negligible. You should use it if your driving faster than 50–60 km/h. But it’s your moral duty to lower the beam whenever another car approaches you from the opposite side.
  • When approaching cars continuously change high-beam and low-beam i.e. flash, it means they are saying something to you. It either could mean that they want to overtake and you should give them the way by slowing down.
  • Another important case where they might flash at you is, you’re using a high beam and it’s blinding them and you should immediately lower the beam of your car. Sadly most people are not aware of this.
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Are there any Penalties for the foul usage of High beam lights?

Inevitably, the answer is “yes”. According to CMV( Central Motor Vehicles) rule number 106 the construction of headlights has to be such that it is,

Permanently deflected downwards to such an extent that it is not capable of dazzling any person

  • a) At a distance of 8 meters from the front of lamp,
  • b) At a distance of 0.5 meter to the right side of the lamps, i.e., fitted at right extreme of the vehicle, from the right edge of the lamp, and
  • c) At a height of 1.5 meters from the supporting plane of the vehicle

So, if you’re the vehicle owner, it is your responsibility to check these specifications as well.

The CMV rules ensure road safety but to top it, one is also liable for a ticket of INR 100 for using a high beam(in situations where it’s not needed) as per the section 112 and 177 MVA(Motor Vehicles Act). There can be a subsequent fine (up to INR 300) too.

Since we have talked a lot about the inappropriate use of high beams and the legal implications, let us talk about which lights should be ideally used in different conditions.

Sadly these common etiquettes are not known by many people. So when they drive wrong, inform them about these rules.

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