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Headlight Rules

By December 17, 2016January 1st, 2017Uncategorized

Driving in Fog

To clear up a misconception based on poor wording and/or a drafting error in the current Highway Code

“You MUST use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet). You may also use front or rear fog lights but you MUST switch them off when visibility improves.”

Law RVLR regs 25 & 22″

The “you may also…..” really means you may use front fog lights instead or as well as headlights which we’ll come to.

(BTW If you look at the 1978 edition, in fog it says “you must use your headlamps or foglamps and rear lamps”, and the 1996 edition also says “use headlamps or front fog lights when visibility is seriously reduced  generally when you cannot see more than a 100 meters”

This is clearer in  Driving The Essential Skills (parts in yellow highlighted by me):


Of course the actual law linked to in the Highway Code itself, is Section 25 of the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989:

25.—(1) Save as provided in paragraph (2), no person shall use, or cause or permit to be used, on a road a vehicle which is fitted with obligatory dipped-beam headlamps unless every such lamp is kept lit

(a) during the hours of darkness, except on a road which is a restricted road for the purposes of section 81 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 by virtue of a system of street lighting when it is lit; and

(b) in seriously reduced visibility.

(2) The provisions of paragraph (1) do not apply

(a)  n/a

(b) in the case of a motor vehicle, ….., fitted with a pair of obligatory dipped-beam headlamps, if–

(i)  a pair of main-beam headlamps is kept lit; or

(ii) in seriously reduced visibility, a pair of front fog lamps which is so fitted that the outermost part of the illuminated area of each lamp in the pair is not more than 400 mm from the outer edge of the vehicle is kept lit;

Again I’ve highlighted the relevant parts.

This also covers another point – If you are driving on a restricted road with a system of street lighting you do not need to have headlights on, side lights alone are the only requirement.

In fact we’d all be better off and there would be much less glare at night if people just used sidelights, the only problem is if you’re the only one doing it, you’re at a disadvantage as everyone else is more visible.

Anything Else?

You’ll notice it refers to the “Hours of Darkness” – This is is:-

The time between half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise.”

Many years ago in the police we used to have a book in the control room that listed the ‘lighting up times”, each day of the year, so we could go looking for lighting offences. Today I guess they just Google it.

Another old favourite fixed penalty offence –

All vehicles MUST display parking lights when parked on a road or a lay-by on a road with a speed limit greater than 30 mph .
Law RVLR reg 24

It used to be quite easy to drive along a 40mph road at night and find a few parked vehicles with no lights on.

Finally – is it a sidelight or a parking light?

It’s neither – In the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations the legal names are front position lamps and rear position lamps.