A growing number of vehicles now come equipped with automatic headlights, which means that drivers may not always realize when their lights are off. In such situations, can you use your high beams to alert them? According to Vehicle Code 24409, flashing your high beams is prohibited if you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or within 300 feet behind another vehicle. So, legally, you cannot use your high beams to signal to a motorist that their headlights are off, as confirmed by California Highway Patrol Officer Tom Olsen. The intentions behind such actions may be well-meaning, such as warning people to turn their lights on or change lanes, but any flashing within the specified distance is considered illegal.
When driving in California, it is important to know when to use high beams. According to Progressive Insurance, high beams should be used on highways or roads in rural areas where there is less light and traffic. The California Department of Motor Vehicles recommends using headlights when visibility is less than 1,000 feet. However, in certain weather conditions like rain, fog, or snow, or when following another vehicle closely, it is best to use low beams. High beams can create a glare in foggy conditions, making it even more difficult to see. In the Central Valley, tule fog is common from November to February, and using high beams in such conditions is not advised. Instead, drivers should use fog lights if available or stick to low beams.
Using high beams incorrectly can result in a fine and points on your driving record. Shouse California Law Group states that violating Vehicle Code 24409 can lead to a fine of approximately $238, along with one point on your driving record. Accumulating points on your record may eventually lead to license suspension.
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