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What are parking lights and how do you use them?

July 4, 2018

If you don’t know or understand how parking lights work; you’re not alone. Your use or need for parking lights greatly depends on where you’re from, North Americans are the least likely to have experience with parking lights because of our well lit roads and ample dedicated parking space.

In Europe and many other parts of the world, parking lights are needed to provide a visual aid to drivers when the car is parked on a dark unlit road, or on a tight road with a corner.

Most parking on continents like Europe, are street based, in old towns with tight tolerances between drivers and drivers:

The parking light serves to illuminate the outer side of your vehicle and uses a low draw bulb as to allow it to stay on overnight. Leaving it on any longer may drain the battery too far.

If available the parking lights are accessed in different ways on different cars. On an older W201 Mercedes the lights are integrated into where the headlight switch is:

Normally the correct way to use the parking lights is to illuminate the outer side of your car, the side for which a driver will be closest to your parked vehicle:

Other side:

Showing just how visible it makes the car at night (note, only for illustration, light should be illuminated on the other side for proper use):

In some countries, its not only recommended to use, but also law. One such example is in the UK:

“You must not park on a road at night facing against the direction of the traffic flow unless in a recognized parking space.

All vehicles must display parking lights when parked on a road or a lay-by on a road with a speed limit greater than 30 mph (48 km/h)”

Reference found here.

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