Car Parking Tips · November 8, 2022

What Are Parking Lights In A Car & When To Use?

Sidelights, which must be used by law, are different from parking lights.

What are parking lights in a car? The front of the car has a small light that is called a parking light. They may have previously been referred to as sidelights.

These are frequently disregarded components of your car despite being located in the same cluster as your main and dipped beams.

How do you turn them on, though, and when should you use it? This guide explains.

What Are Parking Lights?

Sidelights are another name for parking lights. Although they are outside of the headlights and are situated at the front of the car, they are not headlights. Although they should not be confused with brake lights, some cars have a similar pair of lights at the back of their car.

When they were controlled by a different car system than the headlights, parking lights used to be more crucial to the lighting of cars in the past. Consequently, parking lights could take over and provide light for safe driving if the headlights or the system supporting them failed.

In contrast to headlights’ brilliant white or brake lights’ red, parking lights are typically gold or amber in color.

Read More: What Are Parking Sensors?

Purpose Of Parking Lights

Parking lights today merely aid in lighting the front or back of the car. They used to have a more important role, though. In order to increase safety when parking on dark, narrow roads, drivers should turn on their parking lights. Of course, having a well-lit vehicle can help prevent accidents as other motorists will be able to see the lights and avoid potential collisions more easily.

Parking Lights

When Must Use Parking Lights?

All vehicles must have parking lights on when parked in a lay-by or on a road with a speed limit greater than 30 mph, as stated in section 249 of the Highway Code.

On roads under 30mph or under, you don’t need to use parking lights on a car if:

  • You’ve parked at least 10 metres (32 feet) away from any junction, close to the kerb and facing in the direction of the traffic flow
  • You are in a lay-by or designated parking area.

You should still keep your parking lights on if it’s foggy, though.

How To Use My Parking Lights?

In contemporary vehicles, almost all light switches are either located on the dashboard, on the right side of the steering wheel, or at the end of the indicator stalk.

The dial can be turned into the proper position to turn on and off your parking lights.

There will be switches or buttons for your headlights, sidelights, and typically a separate position for your fog lights.

Some car models, though not all, allow the driver to use their indicator while turning off their parking lights.

As a result, the sidelights will only turn on automatically on the left side of the vehicle if the indicator is left in the downward position after the engine is turned off.

Are Parking Lights Required by Law?

Parking lights are not mandated by law, in contrast to headlights, which are. However, because they improve nighttime driving visibility, particularly from the side, the majority of automakers still include them on cars and trucks.

Additionally useful in emergencies, parking lights can increase traffic safety by adding more light. However, modern parking lights are only intended to supplement headlights; they are not intended to be bright enough to replace or serve as a substitute for them.

What Does Law Require About Parking At Night?

It’s worth the reminder that all vehicles must display parking lights—sidelights—when parked on a road (or lay-by) with a speed limit over 30 mph if your head hasn’t been deep in the Highway Code lately.

If the road has a speed limit of 30mph or less, you don’t need to leave on your sidelights, as long as:

  • Your spot is a recognized parking bay or lay-by, or
  • You’re facing in the direction of the traffic flow, close to the kerb, and at least 10 meters from the nearest junction

It goes without saying that you should always check the roadside for any local parking regulations and abide by them.

If your car is unavoidably parked on a road in the fog, sidelights must also be turned on.


What color are parking lights?

In most cases, parking lights will be the same color as your headlights. Halogen bulbs typically have a warm, yellowish glow, whereas LEDs have a brighter, whiter tone.

Does every car has parking lights?

Almost all contemporary automobiles will be equipped with parking lights. If you’re unsure, check your light switches for the symbol, which is typically two opposite-facing semicircles.

Does a car’s battery get drained by parking lights?

Parking lights are made to use very little energy while still keeping your battery charged. Leaving your car on overnight should be safe assuming your battery is in good shape.

Is it legal to drive with parking lights on?

Even though using parking lights while driving is legal, there is not enough light from them for nighttime driving. If you are caught driving in the dark without your main or dipped headlights on, you could receive a pound.