Why do many car headlights appear much brighter than others on the road and shine directly into your eyes as you concentrate on driving in traffic?

T. Dixon
Toronto, ON

As we travel the roads at night we see many cars driving with the headlights on high beam. This is especially annoying when their halogen lights blind you as they shine in your rear view mirror. The law calls for low beam headlights to be used when driving in traffic or within 150 meters (500 feet) of an oncoming vehicle (this applies to all roads, including divided highways). Low beams must also be used when you are following another vehicle within 60 meters (195 feet).

Many new cars have automatic headlights that switch from daytime-running lights to full brilliance at night. The driver seldom checks, however, to see if the headlights are on high or low beam.

In most cars and trucks you can switch to low beams by moving the turn signal lever towards the steering wheel. Many cars and trucks also have fog lights mounted low in the bumper or front of the vehicle. These lights are to be used when driving slower in fog or snow storms. They do not shine very far ahead so should not be used in regular driving conditions as their bright halogen lamps annoy other drivers. It is easy to turn them off via a separate switch. Keep in mind that the foglights cannot be turned off unless the low-beam headlights are switched on, however.

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