2014-11-12 23:11:29

Having the proper exterior lighting for your vehicle warns other drivers and pedestrians of your presence. By regularly checking your lighting, you can ensure you have sufficient illumination while driving on the road. Dim or burnt out headlights limit your view of the road at night.


Good exterior lighting, which is outline below, will help improve the overall safety for you and your passengers.

Following DOT Regulations

The Department of Transportation, as well as every state, has regulations about the types of exterior lighting that should be used. Every vehicle must have headlights that illuminate up to 150 feet on the low setting, and up to 450 feet on the high setting. Taillights should be visible up to 1000 feet away as well. Additionally, all vehicles must have functional brake and turn signal lights. To see DOT (Department of Transportation), click here.


Optional Exterior Lights

Some states require having a license plate light, which makes the numbers on the plate visible up to 50 feet away. Daytime running lights and fog lights, on the other hand, are optional in all states. While beneficial, neither type of lighting system is required by federal or state law.


Currently, there are three types of headlight bulbs available for vehicles:

  • Halogen
  • Xenon
  • LED

Halogen are the most common and least expensive to manufacture. Unfortunately, they draw a considerable amount of power – which makes running the air conditioner problematic on a hot summer day. Xenon bulbs are more efficient and very bright. In fact, they may be too bright and could generate glare to oncoming drivers.


LED bulbs last far longer than halogen and xenon, while using just a fraction of the energy. However, LEDs are more expensive, but they are much more cost effective to replace.


The DOT has very specific regulations that govern the brightness of headlights, in order to protect oncoming drivers. In fact, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard regulation #108 stipulates that any replacement light must use a factory-installed existing automotive lighting source. This prevents vehicles from being upgraded to having high intensity lights.