When Should You Use High Beams?

Find out if you’re getting ripped off on your car insurance in less than two minutes.
No long forms · No spam · No fees
Use your high beams on dark, empty roads to increase your visibility. Do not use your high beams when other cars are near—it will impair their visibility.
Your vehicle has two modes for headlights: low beams and high beams. Your low beams give off less light and project about 200–300 feet in front of your vehicle.
Your high beams (commonly known as “brights”) usually require an additional step to manually turn on—usually a toggle on your turn-signal stalk. They project a much more intense ray of light that will give you visibility approximately 300–350 feet in front of your vehicle.
Using your high beams at the appropriate times can increase your visibility and make you a safer driver—but there are times when your high beams can actually make conditions more dangerous. Car insurance comparison shopping app Jerry breaks down the ins and outs of when to use high-beam headlights.

When to use high-beams

High beams increase your visibility and driver safety when you use them on dark, empty roads. They can especially help keep any pedestrians or animals safe if they’re present.
High beams are also helpful if you’re driving at higher speeds because they help you see further ahead. Again, just be sure to only use them when you are on an empty stretch of road with no traffic for at least 500 feet in front of and behind you.

When you shouldn’t use your high beams

While high beams can help you drive more safely, they can actually make driving conditions more dangerous if used at the wrong time.

You should not use your high beams if:

  • Another vehicle within 500 feet is approaching from the opposite direction
  • You are approaching a vehicle driving in your same direction within 500 feet
  • You are driving in heavy rain or fog
Because they are so bright, high-beam headlights can blind drivers coming the opposite direction. Be sure to turn your high beams down to low beams when oncoming traffic approaches.
High beams also blaringly reflect in the mirrors of cars driving in front of you. Be sure to use low beams when you’re within 500 feet of a vehicle moving in the same direction.
In heavy rain or fog, high beams can actually worsen visibility since they reflect on the water or fog—meaning you can’t see as far ahead. Only use your low beams in these conditions.
Key Takeaway Use high beams if you’re on dark, empty roads—but never use them when other drivers are in close proximity as it can impair their visibility.
RECOMMENDED
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms · No fees, ever

What to do when another driver has their high beams on

It can be incredibly irritating to drive past another car with its high-beam headlights on.
But it happens occasionally—and when it does, resist the urge to honk or flash your brights at the vehicle. This may just confuse the other driver. Instead, keep your eyes on the right perimeter of the road to avoid looking directly into the light.
If the car is behind you, flip your rearview mirror into night mode (there is typically a toggle on the underside of the mirror).

Get Jerry!

We know all things “car” can be confusing—and that’s especially true when it comes to purchasing car insurance. Car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry is here to help with all your car insurance needs.
Jerry takes over the insurance shopping process by doing all the shopping and bringing you car insurance quotes from over 40 name-brand insurance providers. Jerry makes it fast and easy to find the cheapest policies customized to your needs.
Oh, and did we mention that it’s 100% free to use? Take it from our happy customers:
“This was my first time using Jerry and I can’t believe how easy and informative the agents and app are. Jerry gives you step-by-step instructions and very detailed information about every insurance provider. Wish I would have used this sooner instead of going back and forth between different providers. Would recommend to anybody!” —Satisfied Jerry customer

FAQs

When are high beams dangerous?

High beams are dangerous when you’re driving past oncoming traffic. High-beam headlights limit visibility for approaching vehicles (i.e., vehicles in the opposite lanes) and can increase the likelihood of an accident.
Only use your high beams when your car is the sole vehicle on the stretch of road you’re on. Turn them off as soon as you see approaching vehicles.

Should you use your high beams when driving in fog?

No. In heavy rain and fog, high beams actually provide worse visibility than your low-beam headlights. Always use your low beams when driving in fog.
RECOMMENDED
Haven’t shopped for insurance in the last six months? There might be hundreds $$$ in savings waiting for you.
avatar
Judith switched to Progressive
icon savingsSaved $725 annually
avatar
Alexander switched to Travelers
icon savingsSaved $834 annually
avatar
Annie switched to Nationwide
icon savingsSaved $668 annually

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

√
No long forms
√
No spam or unwanted phone calls
√
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings — it's 100% free