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What are fog lights?

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Updated 10 Oct 2019

Rachel White

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You may be surprised to know that it’s illegal to use your fog lights through the day if weather conditions are not foggy.

The only time you can legally use fog lights is when atmospheric conditions such as fog or mist can be dangerous and prevent you from viewing the road properly.

You can be booked and fined for having your fog lights on when weather conditions are not hazardous.

So how do you differentiate between headlights, driving lights, running lights and fog lights?

Fog lights

Fog lights are separate to your headlights, in most occasions they can be found below the main headlights and there will be a separate switch on your dash or instrument panel to turn them on and off.

You can find your fog light and switch locations in your vehicle owner’s manual.

If your car has factory fitted fog lights, they will be located at the front and rear of your vehicle.

The front will emit a white or yellow light and the rear will be red. The rear fog lights are designed to be more visible in hazardous conditions.

The front fog lights have a specific beam designed to stay low and wide and light up the road under the fog.

Once weather conditions have improved, be sure to turn your fog lights off as they can blind other road users once the fog has dispersed.

Driving lights

Driving lights are lights that project a powerful beam down the road and should only be used in conjunction with your high beams. These are likely to be operated in country areas where extra lighting may be required in vast, open areas to avoid hitting animals that may be on or around the road, or to gain a better view of the road ahead.


Headlights are the main lights provided as a standard on all road vehicles. Headlights need to be on between sunset and sunrise, as well as in conditions where visibility is low. If you can’t see a person in dark clothing within 100 metres then it’s time to turn your headlights on.

In extreme weather conditions where visibility is low it’s recommended you drive with your headlights on. If you’re taking a long drive where people may be making passing manoeuvres, having your headlights or running lights on will make you more visible to traffic coming from the opposite direction.

As part of your headlight system, there is a ‘high beam’ which will allow you to see approximately twice as far as low beam. High beam should only be used outside of cities or in rural areas and only when there are no other vehicles around. If you use high beam, remember to switch your headlights back to low as soon as you spot another vehicle. If you are in a situation where you can’t see far ahead of your car, and there are other vehicles around, try slowing down instead of turning high beam on, so that you do not blind other drivers.

Running lights

You may have noticed modern vehicles have forward facing lights that are white and bright. These lights are noticeable! They get your attention and are hard to miss, which is why they exist – to make the vehicle more visible on the road. If your vehicle has running lights they are likely to be automatically activated when you turn the ignition on and will automatically turn off when it’s dark, so other drivers aren’t blinded at night. Running lights were designed to prevent injuries and save lives by making vehicles more visible.

So remember, no fog light activation unless the weather requires it, otherwise you may have an unwanted fine to pay off. Here’s to illuminated and safe motoring!

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Image credit: Tesla in fog Joseph Thornton

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Written By

Rachel White

Rachel spent her early adult life around cars, motorsport and hands-on with her own cars. This interest moved into various careers within the Automotive industry. Joined with her passion for writing, Rachel loves putting the two together to share her experience, so we can all become AutoGuru’s.