A wrong turn of your headlight switch could cost you

By: John Westbury

There is a little-known road rule out there that could cost you hard-earned dollars as well as loss of demerit points, and by wrongly turning your headlight switch on the wrong way could put you on the wrong side of the law.

Most cars these days come with four headlight settings; standard, high beams, fog lights and low beams, and, all changeable with a single control stick behind the steering wheel. It is an easy error to make for drivers who confuse their standard lights with those designed for foggy conditions. Front fog lights, which are found below regular headlights, are angled down and release a horizontal ray that reduces light reflecting back off fog.

The New South Wales Transport Department says the lights can blind or dazzle oncoming drivers if they are switched on under normal driving conditions.

“A driver must not use any light fitted to their vehicle that may dazzle another road user”, the authority’s guide to misunderstood road rules reads. A driver is only permitted to use fog lights if driving in fog, mist or other atmospheric condition that restricts visibility it states. Every state and territory in Australia has laws which make it illegal to incorrectly use fog lights, with fines ranging from $50 to $233.

In most cars, an icon on the dashboard will show which light setting is being used. If you’re still unsure, park your car and switch the settings to see what each one does.  

These are the penalties for using fog lights when not permitted to do so.

New South Wales: You can be fined $110 fine and have two demerit points taken off your licence.

Victoria: A fine of $155, but no demerit points will be deducted.

Queensland: Motorists using fog lights in normal conditions can be fined $50 and lose one demerit point.

South Australia: The country’s largest fine of $233 applies, but no demerit points will be deducted. 

Western Australia: The offence carries a $100 fine and the loss of one demerit point.  

Tasmania: Using fog lights in normal conditions will cost $119, but no demerit points.

Australian Capital Territory: Drivers can be fined $193, but loss of demerit points do not apply. 

Northern Territory: Fog lights need to be angled towards the ground and a caution issued, but in future cases fines vary.

Please take care and save your hard-earned dollars.


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