Do you need high beam or low beam? About 200 feet, or half a city block, of the road, is illuminated by low-beam headlights. Unless: Another vehicle is within 200 feet and is coming at you from the opposite direction, you should switch to high beams when you can no longer see more than 200 feet with low beams.
In this article, we discuss the difference between the high beam and low beam, and when to use them accordingly. So stick around until the end to find out what you’ve been looking for.
What is low beam and when to use it?
Low beam headlights are the dimmer of the two headlight switch settings. When driving on well-lit roads, or when there is oncoming traffic or a vehicle in front of you, they are used to provide a lower level of lighting.
Low beams cast a shorter, wider beam of light than high beams, reducing glare for other drivers and improving visibility for the driver of the vehicle using low beams.
To avoid blinding other drivers, use low beams when there is oncoming traffic or a vehicle in front of you.
This is due to the fact that low beams are intended to illuminate the road closer to the vehicle, whereas high beams will shine too far ahead, into the eyes of oncoming drivers, and may cause temporary blindness.
To avoid creating unnecessary glare for other drivers, use low beams in urban areas or other well-lit areas.
What are high beams for?
High beams, also known as main or full beams, are used to provide maximum visibility when driving on dark, unlit roads. The high beam headlights produce a bright, far-reaching beam of light that allows the driver to see as far ahead as possible. This is particularly useful when driving on rural roads, where there may be no street lights or other sources of illumination.
Here are some situations when it is appropriate to use high beams:
- When there is no oncoming traffic or vehicles in front of you: High beams should be used when there is no risk of blinding other drivers.
- When driving on a deserted road: High beams can be used when there is no risk of encountering other vehicles, allowing the driver to see as far ahead as possible.
- When driving on a winding road: High beams can be used to improve visibility around curves and bends in the road.
- When driving through a construction zone: High beams can be used to improve visibility during nighttime construction.
It’s important to remember that when an oncoming vehicle or a vehicle in front of you is spotted, it’s important to switch to low beams to avoid blinding other drivers and to respect the traffic rules.
High beam vs low beam; Full comparison
|Feature||High Beam||Low Beam|
|Distance of illumination||Far||Near|
|Use on unlit roads||Yes||No|
|Use on well-lit roads||No||Yes|
|Use when no oncoming traffic or vehicles||Yes||No|
|Use when oncoming traffic or vehicles||No||Yes|
|Use in urban areas||No||Yes|
In summary, high beams are used to provide maximum visibility when driving on dark, unlit roads with no oncoming traffic or vehicles in front of you. Low beams are used to provide a lower level of lighting when driving on well-lit roads, or when there is oncoming traffic or a vehicle in front of you.
Are low beam and high beam the same bulb?
In most cases, low beam and high beam headlights use the same bulb. The bulb itself is the same, but the mechanism that controls the light it emits is different. Low beam headlights use a reflector and a lens to direct the light down and forward, creating a low and wide beam.
High beam headlights use a separate reflector and lens, or a movable shield in front of the bulb, to direct the light farther and higher, creating a high and narrow beam. This allows the driver to switch between the two beam options depending on the driving conditions.
However, some vehicles, especially luxury cars, use different bulbs for low and high beams, such as HID and LED, that provide different levels of brightness and distance of illumination.
Some related FAQs
The low beam symbol roughly resembles the letter “D” with several lines extending from it at an angle that is slightly downward. This is not to be confused with the high beam symbol! Despite having a superficially similar appearance, both have very different functions.
At all times when it is raining or cloudy, turn on your headlights. Utilize only your standard headlights. Avoid using your high beams because the bright lights will reflect off sheets of rain, which could cause you and other drivers to become blind. Additionally, your fog lights won’t be much help.