Using Your High Beams in Alaska

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Legal use of your high beams
Safe use of your high beams
Final word


Your “high beams” are what most people refer to as your brights. These are the lights that all vehicles have right next to their headlights that more brightly illuminate a much larger portion of the road for use in a situation where you are driving in extremely dark conditions. For example, there are several areas in Alaska where street/highway lights are far and few between. It can also get as dark as possible in Alaska for very long periods. Hence, the use of your high beams may be more frequent here than most other places.

It is not always legal to drive with your high beams on. Alaska does not have a specific law against particular use of your headlights but it does have a law that states “the glaring or high-intensity portion of the light is not projected into the eyes of the oncoming driver.” Thus, you can get pulled over for using your high beams in Alaska if a police officer deems that you are either fully or partially blinding oncoming drivers. If you are using your high beams and want to avoid being pulled over for doing so, then you should do the following:

  • Turn your high beams off within two hundred feet of any approaching oncoming driver.
  • Do your best to limit your use of your high beams in general. Only use them on very dark and desolate roads.
  • If you do use your high beams, do so intermittently. This means you can always use your high beams to see when driving in a particularly dark area but once you are out of that area, ensure that you switch to your normal headlights.

So, to be sure that you are only using your brights legally there must be no approaching oncoming cars within several hundred feet and there must also be a legitimate need for you to be using your high beams when you do use them.

Safe use of your high beams

The safe use of your high beams will include turning them off at times but also includes knowing when to definitely use them, especially in Alaska. So, as we mentioned, your high beams can temporarily blind oncoming drivers that are approaching. If this occurs, a head on collision is a definite possibility. Head on collisions are one of the most dangerous type of collisions because the impact of the force during the crash gets magnified exponentially due to the forces of both vehicles working in opposite directions. Head on collisions were the second most deadly type of collision in 2020, behind only T-bone collisions according to the Insurance Information Institute.

You should also know when you need to use your brights in order to maximize safety when you are driving in Alaska. Driving on dark roads without much auxiliary lighting or other traffic is one such example of a time you should definitely use your brights. Alaska actually has several notoriously dark and dangerous roads. The darkest roads in Alaska are:

  1. Richardson Highway
  2. Dalton Highway
  3. Seward Highway

Another time in Alaska that you should always choose to use your brights will be when you approach an area marked with signs for animal crossings. In Alaska, there are many animals that could be in the roadway or crossing it at any time. Some of the animals are extremely large like bears, moose and deer. If you strike one of these animals with your vehicle, the damage to your car could be catastrophic. It can also land you or your passengers with some very serious injuries. Even if you are able to swerve out of the way of one of these animals as a last second reaction, doing so can still easily cause you to end up in a serious accident. When you drive with your brights on, you will be able to see a maximum distance in front of you as well as to both peripheral areas in front of you.

Final word

Alaska has some of the darkest stretches of roads in the entire country. Overall, it has some of the least sunlight of anywhere in the world during certain periods of the year. This is why some people will frequently drive around with their brights on here. Some drivers use them as if they were regular headlights. However, if you are using your headlights and oncoming traffic is approaching, you could temporarily blind a driver which could directly cause a head on collision possibly leading to a fatality. If you are overusing your brights in Alaska you can also possibly get pulled over and ticketed. Always turn your brights off when approaching oncoming traffic is within a few hundred feet. However, you should always use your brights when it is necessary and safe such as on a particularly dark stretch of highway and/or when you approach an area of highway at night with frequent animal crossings.

Category: Alaska Car Shipping.