parking lights

What are Parking Lights?

Today, cars are equipped with all sorts of bells and whistles – from heated seats to rear-view cameras. However, many of the basic features, like parking lights, remain. When it gets dark or the day is dreary with rain or snow, we rely on our lights to help us navigate the roadways but also to ensure that other motorists can easily see our vehicle.

But what are parking lights and how are they different from headlights, taillights, or hazard lights? Here, we’ll explore the ins and outs of parking lights and how they differ from other car lights.


What are Parking Lights?

Parking lights are sometimes referred to as sidelights. They are not headlights but do appear outside of them and are located at the front of the vehicle. Some cars have a similar pair of lights located at the rear of their vehicle, though those should not be confused with brake lights.

Parking lights used to play a more integral role for car lighting in the past when they were operated on a separate car system than the headlights. Consequently, if the headlights, or the system supporting them, failed, the parking lights could take over, providing light for driving safely.

Parking lights are also usually colored gold or amber, which differs from the bright white lights of headlights or the red of brake lights.


What is the Purpose of Parking Lights?

Today, parking lights simply assist in illuminating the front or rear of the vehicle. In the past, however, they served a more critical function. Drivers could turn on their parking lights when they were parking on dark, narrow roads in order to enhance safety. A well-lit car, of course, can help reduce accidents because the lights make it easier for other drivers to see and steer clear of potential collisions.


Are Parking Lights Required by Law?

Unlike headlights, which are required by law, parking lights are not a legal requirement. However, most car manufacturers continue to include them on cars and trucks because they enhance nighttime driving visibility, especially from the side.

Parking lights can also be helpful in the event of an emergency, providing additional light to promote improved roadway safety. Today, though, parking lights are not designed to be bright enough to replace or substitute for headlights; they merely complement the function of headlights.


Know Your Lights

It’s helpful to know all of the lights on your car and understand what they mean. You may also be tasked with replacing bulbs from time to time. While you can bring your car to a dealer or mechanic to replace car lights, such as parking lights, it’s much cheaper and not very difficult to replace them yourself. When you know what each light is, you can quickly find a replacement at your local auto shop and make the necessary fix.

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