Lights and warning devices

Fog lights

Front or rear fog lights must not be used unless driving in fog or other hazardous weather conditions causing reduced visibility. This may include snowfall, heavy rain or a dust storm. During the day when there is fog or other hazardous weather conditions, headlights may be kept off if the driver is using their front fog lights. In such conditions, a driver must turn on either their headlights or front fog lights, or both.

Fog lights have a low, flat, wide beam to illuminate the road below the fog or mist. They must be wired to switch on separately to the high-beam and low-beam headlights. Front fog lamps may emit a white or yellow coloured light.

A rear fog light is a higher intensity light used on a vehicle to make it more easily visible from the rear in dense fog. Rear fog lights may only emit a red light. The higher intensity light allows the vehicle to be seen in thick fog. However, the intensity of rear fog lights is similar to that of brake lights and, when used inappropriately, may mislead other drivers into thinking that the brakes are constantly being applied. Therefore they must be switched off when driving in clear conditions as the bright red light may confuse and dazzle following drivers.

Driving lights

Driving lights are different as they are designed to illuminate the road over a long distance. They supplement high-beam headlights and have a similar lighting pattern. Driving lights should be wired to switch on when the high-beam headlights are on and must emit a white light.

Drivers must not use high-beam headlights (including driving lights) when driving less than 200 metres behind a vehicle travelling in the same direction or less than 200 metres from an oncoming vehicle.

Daytime running lights

Daytime running lights (DRLs) are fitted to the front of a vehicle to increase its visibility to other road users during the day. They generally cannot be controlled by the driver and turn on automatically when the engine is started. Research shows that DRLs can reduce the chances of a crash during daylight hours as they make the vehicle more visible to other road users.

If you are unsure what types of lights you have fitted to your car, consult your owner’s manual. If you are still unsure and purchased your car new, contact your dealer. If you purchased your car used, consult with an auto electrician.

Headlights

Drivers must not drive at night or in hazardous weather causing reduced visibility unless their headlights, tail lights and number plate lights are operating effectively and are clearly visible. If the vehicle has side clearance lights or side marker lights (e.g. trucks), these must also be working and clearly visible.

Using headlights on high beam is not allowed within 200m of an oncoming vehicle or a vehicle travelling in the same direction ahead of you. You can flash your headlights briefly to warn a vehicle ahead that you are about to overtake, but for no other purpose.

Unless parking lights (and clearance or side marker lights if fitted) are operating effectively and clearly visible, drivers can only stop on a road at night where there is street lighting and the vehicle is visible for at least 200m in all directions. But when stopped or parked legally on a length of road or in an area to which a parking control sign applies, lights may be left off.

RACV advice

Lights must not dazzle another driver. RACV recommends that drivers ask to have them checked and the headlamps re-aimed when their car is being serviced, as this is often not included. 

It’s important to regularly check the lights on your car are operating correctly, as a globe can blow at any time.