The name "parking lights" is given to the set of lights that appear outside of the headlights on the front of a car. Often, cars have a second set of parking lights in the rear.
Traditionally, parking lights were wired on a different system than headlights and were used in place of them when parked alongside a road so that the parked car could be spotted by approaching drivers. As time went on and roads became wider, the original use of parking lights fell by the wayside.
Since 1968, parking lights have been produced on the same wiring system as headlights and used concurrently with them as an additional means of illuminating a vehicle. Their main purpose is to make cars more visible from the side.
In the United States, parking lights are typically orange or gold in colour to distinguish them from red break lights and white headlights. In other parts of the world, parking lights are typically bright, clear lights.
Parking lights serve a useful purpose as a backup light in emergencies. If a headlight burns out, the parking light will still shed some light on that side of the car. Additionally, in such a situation, the glow that the parking lights create around the car makes it more obvious that the vehicle is an automobile and not a motorcycle or other vehicle with only one standard headlight.
In most places, it is illegal to drive at night with only the parking lights illuminated, as they do not provide adequate illumination to be used alone.