Side lights while towing

Aug 24, 2020
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Hi all

Just read through an old resurrected thread about long vehicle signs which inspired me to ask a related question.

When my Dad first started towing, he was advised that it's good practice to have your side lights on while towing (unless light conditions mean you need headlights obviously!). It draws attention to the fact that there's something unusual about the vehicle, in this case that it's towing a trailer.

I've no idea who told my Dad that and sadly I can't ask him - but it's something I've always done while towing. My car is of an age that it doesn't have daylight running lights, and of course even if it did those wouldn't put the caravan lights on. At the very least it strikes me as something that can't hurt, and at best might actually contribute to road safety.

So my question is, does anyone else do this - and if it's a bad idea, why?

I've also got high viz stickers (the sort sold to stick on motorbike helmet etc) on the forward-facing side of my extension towing mirrors - I know that technically these are illegal because they put a yellow/green reflective material facing forwards, but I've towed them past many Police traffic patrols and never been criticised so at least they're tolerated. Comments on this practice also welcome!
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Never have put sidelights on when towing, although aren't sidelights frowned upon, rather no lights or headlights. But of course the use of DRL give some attention to on coming traffic, but then it is no different solo or towing. Like you though I have used the high reflectivity stickers on mirrors, and around the caravan. Only small ones though about 5-10p size but they do reflect at night really well.
 
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Aug 24, 2020
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What are Trent sidelights? Not a term I've heard. But yes, in general driving if it's dark enough for any lights at all I use dipped headlights, my sidelights are for towing in good daylight or parking at night in areas where people drive like *********s and might not notice something as subtle as a Jeep parked under a streetlight.

I've never put reflectors on the caravan, my philosophy is that if people can't see a big white box then some 10p sized reflectors aren't going to change that! But my towing mirrors are black, and in a position where many people might not expect a car to have an extra sticky-out bit, so I use them there.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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What are Trent sidelights? Not a term I've heard. But yes, in general driving if it's dark enough for any lights at all I use dipped headlights, my sidelights are for towing in good daylight or parking at night in areas where people drive like *********s and might not notice something as subtle as a Jeep parked under a streetlight.

I've never put reflectors on the caravan, my philosophy is that if people can't see a big white box then some 10p sized reflectors aren't going to change that! But my towing mirrors are black, and in a position where many people might not expect a car to have an extra sticky-out bit, so I use them there.
Darned Intelitext now corrected
 
Feb 23, 2018
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It's been a while since the caravan was hitched, but I'm sure my caravan side markers/front position lights are illuminated when my headlight switch is in the 'Auto' position. [In normal daylight this means the car front LED DRLs are lit only] I don't think it makes any difference in daylight and good visibility if they are on or off.

Millenco mirrors have a small white reflector disk on the front.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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lutzschelisch.wix.com
Sidelights are officially called position lamps and that is what they are there for. The justification for having them on is to indicate that the caravan is wider than the towcar, because its position lights will be on at the same time and its lights will be further outboard.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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I don't bother with side lights however as the vehicle has automatic lights if the weather gets dull the lights switch on.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I don't use auto lights just in case they should switch onto headlights when car/pedestrian or cyclist in front of me want to exit or enter a side road. It s akin to giving a"come on" flash. The Auto function should beep you to then allow the driver to switch headlights on.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I don't use auto lights just in case they should switch onto headlights when car/pedestrian or cyclist in front of me want to exit or enter a side road. It s akin to giving a"come on" flash. The Auto function should beep you to then allow the driver to switch headlights on.
But in the case in question the headlights wouldn't flash, but stay on. Besides, it's very unlikely that they would come on just at that very instance. I override the auto function by switching headlights on permanently as soon as I'm on the move.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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But in the case in question the headlights wouldn't flash, but stay on. Besides, it's very unlikely that they would come on just at that very instance. I override the auto function by switching headlights on permanently as soon as I'm on the move.
You don’t need a flash if someone is geared up to come out the very act of the headlights coming on could initiate their movement if only fir half a car length. Unlikely or not it’s a probability isn’t it. I tend to drive with my car on its sidelights which are bright LED arrays whereas it’s DRLs are just incandescent bulbs down in the low front fog lights. So whilst running on sidelights is not recommended mine with their LED arrays are little different to many of the newer cars on the roads.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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You don’t need a flash if someone is geared up to come out the very act of the headlights coming on could initiate their movement if only fir half a car length. Unlikely or not it’s a probability isn’t it. I tend to drive with my car on its sidelights which are bright LED arrays whereas it’s DRLs are just incandescent bulbs down in the low front fog lights. So whilst running on sidelights is not recommended mine with their LED arrays are little different to many of the newer cars on the roads.
It is the responsibility of the driver entering from a junction to make sure it is safe before doing so regardless of anyone flashing their lights. Our lights are permanently on auto. The auto function has nothing to do with DRLs. Never saw any point in running with sidelights on even when I did nto have lights with the auto function. However if ti makes you feel safe that is what counts. :)
 
Nov 11, 2009
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It is the responsibility of the driver entering from a junction to make sure it is safe before doing so regardless of anyone flashing their lights. Our lights are permanently on auto. The auto function has nothing to do with DRLs. Never saw any point in running with sidelights on even when I did nto have lights with the auto function. However if ti makes you feel safe that is what counts. :)
I know the auto function only turns on headlights and the responsibility of other drivers. . In daytime I will run on sidelights as opposed to DRLs as the sidelights are a bright LED array whereas the DRLs are normal “ yellow” incandescent lights. Until this car I’ve never run on sidelights as it’s either no lights or headlights isn’t it? But DRLs have changed things.
 
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Jul 18, 2017
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I know the auto function only turns on headlights and the responsibility of other drivers. . In daytime I will run on sidelights as opposed to DRLs as the sidelights are a bright LED array whereas the DRLs are normal “ yellow” incandescent lights. Until this car I’ve never run on sidelights as it’s either no lights or headlights isn’t it? But DRLs have changed things.
I thought that even if you turned on the sidelights the DRLs would remain on?
 
Aug 24, 2020
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I thought that even if you turned on the sidelights the DRLs would remain on?
I don't think they're supposed to - my reason for thinking that is that DRLs (on some cars) are in a similar position to front fogs, and there are rules about when front fogs are allowed to be on. That said, if we HAVE to have DRLs I don't really see the problem with them being on regardless of what the other lights are doing.

Not a fan of DRLs, or auto-lights for that matter, they just strike me as one more encouragement for some drivers to not think about what they're doing. I was on the M25 in heavy rain and poor visibility on Saturday, and there were some cars without lights on at all other than their DRLs - which does nothing to improve visibility from behind. And as far as I could see, no-one except me had their back fogs on.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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The VW auto lights are sensibly tuned to switch on earlier than perhaps I would normally do. As soon as they come on the dash display screen goes to night mode. The caravan side lights come on .The DLR are built into the headlamp units and are a series of very bright LEDs. Overall I am happy they are a major safety advantage rather than an irritant.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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I don't think they're supposed to - my reason for thinking that is that DRLs (on some cars) are in a similar position to front fogs, and there are rules about when front fogs are allowed to be on. That said, if we HAVE to have DRLs I don't really see the problem with them being on regardless of what the other lights are doing.

Not a fan of DRLs, or auto-lights for that matter, they just strike me as one more encouragement for some drivers to not think about what they're doing. I was on the M25 in heavy rain and poor visibility on Saturday, and there were some cars without lights on at all other than their DRLs - which does nothing to improve visibility from behind. And as far as I could see, no-one except me had their back fogs on.
My DLRs are located within the front fog housings but are much less bright than the fog lights. The DLRs switch off when sidelights and/or headlights are switched on. Cannot switch front or rear fog unless headlights are on.
 
Jul 30, 2007
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The actual meaning of flashing headlights means,"I am here" ,not to signal another motorist to pull out etc..
Yep....I regularly "flash"people out as well.😂
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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As a slight aside you can now buy road legal LED headlights for some mainstream makes of car. OSRAM are now marketing them. Price.....dont ask?
 
Nov 11, 2009
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My Volvo 245 had DRLs back in the mid 1980s, very bright and positioned quite high up on the front of the car. Very useful for lane 3 driving as those in front knew immediately what was bearing down on them. :eek:
 
Aug 24, 2020
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My Volvo 245 had DRLs back in the mid 1980s, very bright and positioned quite high up on the front of the car. Very useful for lane 3 driving as those in front knew immediately what was bearing down on them. :eek:
I think Volvos and Saabs have had DRLs since at least the mid-seventies (Jasper Carrott had a sketch about it) because it was a legal requirement in Sweden, so they just fitted them to their export vehicles as well.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I think Volvos and Saabs have had DRLs since at least the mid-seventies (Jasper Carrott had a sketch about it) because it was a legal requirement in Sweden, so they just fitted them to their export vehicles as well.
My 245 was built in Belgium and the unreliability and rust came gratis. Three Volvos but never again, one SAAB wish they were still made.
 
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Nov 6, 2005
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I think Volvos and Saabs have had DRLs since at least the mid-seventies (Jasper Carrott had a sketch about it) because it was a legal requirement in Sweden, so they just fitted them to their export vehicles as well.
For a while, "dim-dip" was a requirement but eventually dropped - Vauxhall used a transformer to drop the voltage to 6v but this caused interference with their cassette players, not sure if they ever resolved it.
 

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