4 Things Your Teen Should Know About Lights on a Vehicle

1. Day Time Running Lights

Daytime running lights assist the driver with seeing and helping other vehicles on the roadway identify active vehicles during light hours. Day time running lights are present in most vehicles manufactured in the 1990s or later. Your teen must understand that daytime running lights are not meant to be used in situations where the driver requires more light to see the road. If that is the case, it is best to turn on the low beams, but we will discuss this further on. In most vehicles, the daytime running lights are engaged when the vehicle is put into gear.

2. Low Beams

The purpose of low beams is to illuminate the road far enough ahead so that the driver can see the road ahead. Also, the low beam headlights help other drivers see your teen’s vehicle on the roadway to reduce the chance of a collision. Ensure that your teen understands the difference between the low beams and the high beams as they are to be used in different scenarios. Remind your teen each time they get in the vehicle to ensure that the proper lights are on even if the vehicle’s light system is automatic. During darker hours, your teen should ALWAYS be using the low beams.

Did you know that during foggy weather, low beam lights are much more suitable to use (if the vehicle is not equipped with fog lights)! Many new drivers assume that high beam lights will be better to penetrate the fog to see further, but high beams have the opposite effect in foggy weather. The light ends up reflecting off of the precipitation making it more difficult for the driver to see.

3. High Beams

High beams are also used during dark hours; however, they are not suitable for urban areas due to the increased brightness. High beams point in a straighter line than low beams, thus increasing the distance the driver can see. High beam lights are to be used during the night when no other drivers or lights are present to help illuminate the road. When another driver becomes present, ensure that your teen knows when to turn off the high beams and return to the low beams. High beams blind other drivers, which can lead to a significant increase in the chance of collision.

4. Parking Lights

Even experienced drivers ask, “What is the purpose of parking lights?” You guessed it; parking lights are to be used in parking situations! Although not used commonly, these lights can be turned on when the driver is still sitting in the vehicle. Instead of draining the battery power by leaving the headlights on, a driver can use the parking lights.

Coaching Your Teen

Educating your teen about the use cases for the light settings in the vehicle is the first step. Ensure that your teen knows how to operate the lights in any vehicle they will be driving PRIOR to driving. It can be extremely distracting for your teen if they are driving while also trying to figure out vehicle settings. Also, it will be beneficial for your teen to recognize and identify what the light symbols mean. Use the image below to teach them about the different symbols they will come across.


As a parent of two young adults, I have been through the process of teaching my teens to drive. It can be challenging, fun, exciting, and frustrating! I learned with my youngest that having a structured program helped us create a positive learning environment. To learn more about the Coaching New Drivers program, visit our homepage! Our mission at Coaching New Drivers is to create safer drivers to reduce the number of collisions and fatalities that occur each day.


Young Drivers. (2012, March 5). Fog Light Driving Lessons. YouTube. [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg9FDZxERgs

Coach Bill

Coach Bill

Bill is the Managing Partner of Coaching New Drivers and has a vast background in driver education. Bill is passionate about technology-based driver assessment and has gained extensive knowledge and experience through lecturing on driving topics across North America, Australia, and Asia. Bill is a parent to two teens who he has also successfully coached during the Learner’s permit stage.

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