Why Use High Beams?

Updated March 23, 2017

High beam headlights are extra bright -- so bright, they can cast a blinding glare at oncoming cars and cause other drivers to flash their lights and honk their horns in an effort to get you to dim your own lights. Knowing when and why to use your high beams makes you a safer, more considerate driver.


High beams provide more light and visibility than low beams. The average range of high beam headlights is about 350 feet, compared to the 160-foot range of low beam headlights.


Driving with low beams is preferred in some harsh weather conditions. Rain, fog and falling snow all reflect light, so drivers should leave their lights on low beam when driving in these conditions.


In dry weather, increased visibility can increase safety. However, drivers should never use their high beams to increase their own visibility at the expense of other drivers. In New York, for example, drivers must lower their headlights to low beam within 500 feet of an approaching vehicle or within 200 feet of a vehicle ahead of you, even if that vehicle is in another lane. Drivers should also dim their lights for oncoming pedestrians.

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About the Author

Marilyn Lindblad practices law on the west coast of the United States. She has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her work has appeared on various websites. Lindblad received her Juris Doctor from Lewis and Clark Law School.