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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Is it Illegal to Drive with Parking Lights On?

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

Light fixtures such as headlights, high beams, and parking lights are both important when driving, especially at night, because these lights help other drivers be able to see their surroundings, provide other drivers an indication of their next move, and allow other people to see the driver’s car. With the importance of these things, all vehicles need to have two functional headlights, high beams, and parking lights. Driving a vehicle is not legal if they have defective headlights, high beams, headlamps, or even with only parking lights on.

parking lights - what are they?

Parking Lights — What are They?

Parking lights, or sometimes known as parking lamps, should be connected to the headlights’ outside portion in front of all cars or motor vehicles. Some modern cars and vehicles have similar sets on their rear lights and parking lights.

In previous years, illuminated parking lights are recognized as parking sidelights. Using only parking lights has a greater role today compared to back then. Before, parking lights ran on the Operating System, which is separated from the headlights of the cars. It only means that parking lights could be available once the headlight bulb burns or fails. Moreover, parking lights or signal lamps are dim parking lamps that don’t use much battery. It was also possible to switch on its parking lamps or parking lights on the car’s side back then.

The Main Purpose of Daytime Running Lights, Headlights, and Parking Lights

Running lights during the day are also useful with other hazard lights, like high beams and headlights. They are beneficial, especially when there’s fog or heavy rain during the day or night. Likewise, hazard lights, high beams, and headlights are used to turn signal lamps to make the road more visible. Fog lights will serve as a signal light once heavy fog exists on the road ahead, allowing you to navigate your car or your vehicle safely. So, any driver could say that fog lights are essential to navigate the car’s steering wheel while going to a specific destination.

Specific State Law and Regulation When Driving While Using High Beams and Hazard Lights or Emergency Flashers

Many US states have strict laws and regulations on driving on a public highways. Some things that a driver needs to know which are anchored on these regulations are the following:

High Beam and Low Beam Headlights Should be Properly Used as a Turn Signal

High beam lights must be switched off when other drivers are approaching from the opposite side. According to the law, in most states, you must switch your running headlights to low beam headlights 500 feet (152.4 meters) or even more from the oncoming traffic vehicles. Drivers may consult their provided driver’s handbook if they want to know more about headlights and parking light regulations. Aside from that, try reading the car manual to learn how to use the high beams, low beams, and some hazard lights or headlights for turn signals.

Low-beam headlights should be used when it’s already getting dark, at night, or once there’s low visibility because of bad weather and foggy conditions. In most states, it is required that running headlights should be switched on from the sunset until sunrise; however, some of these states have specific times only in turning on the headlights or specific lights of the vehicle.

Cars are Required to Have Brake Lights, Taillights, and Parking Lights

In most states, taillights and parking lights are highly required to be visible and noticeable from 500-ft. away. These taillights must be red and should be located at the back of the vehicle. Aside from that, brake lights should light up once you press the brakes in giving signals to other drivers that you will stop your car.

High Beam Headlights Must be at the Front and Can Illuminate the Road Especially if There are Dim Street Lights

These high beams, headlights, and parking lights must have high luminosity, covering a greater distance. Moreover, high beam headlights with bright light need to be utilized during low visibility and inclement weather. On the contrary, high beam headlights with bright light are not recommended when there’s fog on the country roads since high beam headlights with optimum bright light would only cause reflection on the fog and dampened air, which may blind the other drivers.

The Use of Windshield Wipers, Lights On, and Parking Lights in Cars

Some states have a specific law on the use of windshield wipers and headlights in any vehicle. If you use windshield wipers, then you should also switch on the headlights. The parking lights must be white headlights (amber lights) on the car's front portion and red lights on the car’s back. All these lights, including amber, dome, and hazard lights, must be visible even from 500-feet away from the driver.

As a driver, you also need to keep in mind that car hazard lights or parking lights are only required to be utilized for parking a vehicle or when the car is parked correctly. These lights should be turned off once you’re driving the vehicle or any type of car. Take note that parking lights should only be used when parking a vehicle.

Things to consider when driving on the highway

Things to Consider Before Driving on a Public Highway

When drivers tend to drive their vehicle on a public highway, it is important to check all the lights, including the dome light, high beams, and fog light. Make sure that these lights are properly functioning and would illuminate once needed as lit headlamps. Non-functioning headlights, high beam headlights, and parking lights are considered disabled vehicles. They should not be driven, especially at night.

While maneuvering the car and other vehicles, always check the traffic signs on the side of the road where your car is parked so that you will not be penalized with a double-parking violation. If there is a parked vehicle on the side of the road, try to look for another area to park the car. For safety purposes, it is a must that the driver monitors the speed limit when driving, especially in rural areas at night. It's because there might be some obstacles and blind curves, wherein these are prone to dangers.

What to Do When the Parking Lights, Headlights, or Headlamps Don't Illuminate Properly?

If you're driving at night and the car headlamps, headlights, or parking lights are busted or don't function properly, it's time to pull over and stop on the side of the road. Then double-check the vehicle's headlights or parking lights regarding the problem. Park your car in a safe place and seek help. While your vehicle is already parked, you need to switch on the parking light of the vehicle. Here are some valuable tips that you and other drivers can do once you experience headlight or parking light problems:

  • Check the car’s manual and troubleshoot the headlights or parking lights- Nowadays, most manufacturers of modern cars or modern vehicles are user-friendly; anyone can quickly troubleshoot the car parking lights, emergency flashers, high beams, or headlights, and other lights of the vehicle. There are also manufacturers of wire which you can use to do the DIY troubleshooting of your car’s problems.

  • Check the head bulb or the parking lights to see if they’re still switching on once the engine is on.

  • Check if the battery is still functioning. Sometimes, the parking light won’t perform well because there’s no backup battery.

You may troubleshoot some problems on the high beams, parking lights, or vehicle headlights by doing these things.

Final Verdict

When you're driving a car, make sure that the steering wheel is functioning correctly. The steering wheel must be checked before going to your destination. Moreover, parking lights and headlights can illuminate the road without obstacles. These parking lights and headlights will assure you that you'll be safe until you reach your destination. It's also good to think that you don't have violations when driving since high beams, headlights, and parking lights are in perfect condition.

It's also good to remember that it's legal to drive a vehicle with headlights, high beams, and parking lights. So, even if you park your car in a parking area, you will not get a violation since your parking light is switched on. Thus, you can feel secure that your car is safely parked in a designated parking area without any worries. If you have any other questions, talk to personal injury lawyers or car accident lawyers near you.


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