How to Properly Use Your Car Headlights on Roads in Australia

Have you noticed anything different about car headlights in Australia over the last few decades?

For starters, car headlights have become brighter and more technologically advanced to make Australian roads safer. Now you can find new cars built with numerous automated headlight features, such as an auto-levelling system that automatically adjusts the brightness based on the height of other vehicles and the curves on the road.

The newest headlight features are supposed to make driving easier and safer on Australian roads at night and on rainy days. Unfortunately, many Australian motorists are still confused about the purpose of modern car headlights and how to use them for safe driving properly.

This article will discuss the various mistakes and confusing aspects of modern car headlights in Australia and how you can best overcome them to become a safer and happier driver.

The Brightness Controversy

Why are modern car headlights so much brighter? While brighter headlights may make it easier for you to see the road, they could make it more difficult for others to see the road because your bright lights will blind them.

There is no doubt that modern car headlights have better energy efficiency, durability, longevity, and brightness than the classic halogen headlights found in older cars from the 1990s. But since fewer cars have halogen lamps for headlights, all you see on the roads of Australia today are cars with high-intensity discharge (HID) lights and light-emitting diode (LED) lights.

You are probably familiar with LED lamps and bulbs because they have been used in homes and businesses for many years due to their superior brightness and energy efficiency. Now, they have been incorporated into car headlights for the same reasons. HID lights also have more brightness and energy efficiency than halogen lamps. But, compared to LED lights, HIDs have more brightness and less energy efficiency.

The problem is the increased brightness blinds many Australian motorists on the road. To resolve this problem, the Australian Government updated its Australian Design Rules (ADR) to improve the national road safety standards pertaining to LED and HID car headlights.

The current ADR rules require cars to have self-levelling and self-cleaning systems installed to prevent dazzling the other motorists on the road. Of course, these systems are not 100% foolproof, so you should not rely on them entirely. The best thing to do is focus your full attention on the middle of the road in front of you and avoid looking directly at any of the other vehicles and their bright headlights.

Installing Aftermarket HID and LED Lamps on Older Vehicles

Are you considering installing modern LED or HID lamps on an older vehicle that initially had halogen lamps installed?

Technically, it is possible to perform such an installation. The problem is that the light from the HID or LED lamps will disperse incorrectly because the housing for headlights in older cars is not equipped to support them. As a result, the unusual shine of the light could still make it more difficult for other motorists to see the road.

Another thing you should remember is that older vehicles were not built with the self-levelling and self-cleaning systems found in newer cars. So, even if you install newer HID or LED lamps on your older car, it still won’t have the automated features required by the ADR.

Therefore, what’s the point of installing them in an older vehicle? You may as well buy a new car with lights that comply with ADR standards.

Are High Beams Illegal?

You are only supposed to use high beams on rural roads where your surroundings are difficult to see because of heavy darkness, fog, or rain. If no one else is within 200 metres of your car, you can turn on your high beams to see the road more clearly. But once you get within 200 metres of the nearest vehicle on the road, you must turn off your high beams so you don’t temporarily blind the other driver.

It doesn’t matter if the other vehicle travels in the same or opposite direction on the road because the 200-metre rule applies regardless. On the other hand, if you wish to pass another car on the road, you can temporarily turn on your high beams right before you begin to pass them. Just do it quickly to avoid keeping the high beam on too long.

When to Use Fog Lights

Fog lights disperse light much broader and lower than the standard headlight option. The purpose of fog lights is to help you see the road in foggy, rainy, or smoky conditions. But if you use fog lights on a clear night, they could distract other motorists on the road.

Only use fog lights in rough weather conditions. Sometimes, you may turn on your fog lights without realising it because the fog light and headlight switches are located next to each other. So, make sure you turn on the right one when you’re driving.

Daytime Running Lights Are Not the Same as Headlights

One of the other newest technological lighting features in modern Australian vehicles is daytime running lights. You can find them in various newer vehicles, including sedans, electric cars, luxury cars, and hatchbacks.

Daytime running lights are bright white lamps that make it easier for other motorists to see your vehicle in the daytime. They automatically emit light from the front of your car as the vehicle is in motion. You do not have to manually turn on the lights like people usually do with standard headlights.

The important thing is to make sure you don’t substitute your standard headlights for the daytime running lights when driving at night. Daytime running lights emit low-intensity bright lighting to help others see you. However, they are not as bright as standard headlights, so you should not use daytime running lights at night.

Unfortunately, many motorists will often confuse the two and not turn on their standard headlights when it gets dark outside because they think they are already on. The best way around this problem is to set your headlight activation to “auto” if the feature is available in your car. That way, your vehicle will automatically turn on your standard headlights and turn off your daytime running lights when it gets dark outside.


You would be surprised how many car accidents occur in Australia because of people’s misconceptions about car lighting. Remember to follow the national road safety standards, avoid aftermarket light installations, and rely on your car’s automated lighting features. You should stay safe on the road if you do these three things.