Did You Know That Headlights Point Right in Europe?

June 20th, 2014


Driving in Europe is challenging for us Brits; especially if you’re driving the ‘wrong’ way down the road in a right-hand drive car!

It’s very disorienting to drive through roads where everything is on the opposite side – you have to keep an eye out for road signs and contend with traffic going the ‘wrong’ way at junctions and roundabouts are a nightmare when approached for the first time.

But there’s another, unexpected danger to driving on the wrong side of the road for a right-hand-drive car, particularly while driving at night…

Left The Light On

The distribution of light from low-beam headlights is actually asymmetrical.

The left-side headlight of your British car directs light forwards, whereas the right-side headlight dips the beam down and out across the road. This setup helps to illuminate obstructions and traffic signs on the left-hand side of the road, without dazzling drivers which are coming towards you on the right hand side.

As you might expect, the asymmetrical light distribution is the opposite way around in Europe, so driving a UK right-hand-drive car without any adjustments on the continent is very dangerous; you’ll be blinding everyone in the oncoming lane!

All Right Now

So how can you drive on European roads with safe headlamps?

If your car has projector-type headlights, you may find you can switch your lights from left-hand to right-hand with a switch or lever on the headlights themselves.

This switch typically moves a small plate inside the light assembly which will deflect the beam down onto the road. Consult your owner’s handbook to see if your vehicle has this functionality.

Some factory-fitted OEM and Xenon bulbs don’t require adjustment – the beam pattern will be completely flat, so you won’t need to modify them at all.

Although it’s certainly not essential, you may want to approach your vehicle’s manufacturer and ask them to provide written proof that your OEM bulbs are legal for EU driving – this piece of paper can come in handy if the local police suspect your headlights and pull you over.

If your car is stuck with regular, non-adjustable headlamps, you can adjust them yourself with beam adaptor stickers – place these on to your headlights and deflect the beam away to ensure you are legal for European driving.

You can find beam adaptors in the Autobulbs Direct store – they’re available on their own or included in our European driving kits, which provide all the essentials you need for motoring across Europe.


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