When to use headlights

You must turn on your vehicle’s headlights:

  • from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise 
  • at any other time when you can’t clearly see a person or vehicle 100 metres away.

Never drive with just the park lights on.

Note: park lights are also known as position lamps.

When to dip your vehicle’s headlights

You must dip your vehicle’s headlights:

  • when other vehicles are coming towards you, so that you don’t blind the oncoming driver
  • when following other vehicles
  • when approaching a police officer who's directing traffic
  • when parked. 
Two cars heading towards each other at night with their headlights dipped.

Dipping headlights for an oncoming vehicle

A car is following another car at night. Both cars have their headlights dipped.

If there's plenty of street lighting, you should be able to drive with your headlights dipped the whole time.


Be aware that at night, because most road signs are highly reflective, your lights shining on them may make you think you can see further than you really can. Make sure you drive more slowly and carefully at night, particularly on unfamiliar roads.

Speed at night

You must drive at a safe speed at night. This means that:

  • on a road with lanes, you must be able to stop in the length of clear road you can see in front of you
  • on a road with no lanes, you must be able to stop in half the length of clear road you can see in front of you.

Safety tips for night driving

Driving at night is more dangerous than driving during the day. To improve your safety on the road at night:

  • make sure your windscreen and lights are clean
  • never wear dark glasses
  • watch for pedestrians and cyclists – they're harder to see at night
  • stop and rest if you're sleepy
  • don’t blind other drivers with your vehicle’s headlights – dip them when vehicles are coming towards you or when you're following another vehicle
  • if you're blinded by the lights of oncoming vehicles:
    • slow down or stop
    • try to keep your eyes on the left side of the road, so you’re not looking directly at the light
  • drive at a speed that means you can see the road at least 2 seconds ahead
  • in an area without street lighting, use full beam as appropriate to increase how far you can see.

Use markers to guide you when driving at night

Many roads have reflectors and guide posts to help you read the road at night. Some examples of these are shown below.

Thin white rectangular post with a red reflector about one fifth down the post and a thin white reflective strip in the centre of the top half.

Left side of the road marker post

Thin white retangular post with thin yellow strip in the middle of the top half and covered by a red reflective rectangle about one fifth of the way down.

Right side of the road marker post indicating left-hand bend


This post with black and white right sloping diagonal stripes

Left side of bridge

Right side of bridge 


Left side of road

A white reflector, also known as a cat's eye.

Centre line


A yellow reflector, also known as a cat's eye.

No passing

A blue reflector, also known as a cat's eye.

Fire hydrant