“Is it compulsory to have a box of ampoules under your elbow or not?” Is the question asked this week by Alfred J., from Bayeux (14).

In winter, when visibility is often poor (fog, rain, snow), and the days are shorter, you must pay particular attention to the lighting of your car. Because in this period when we roll de facto more at night, the adage “see and be seen” takes on its full meaning. However, even with all your good will, it is not excluded that you sometimes make mistakes and risk, without knowing it, to break the regulations or, worse, to cause an accident by dazzling another motorist or by driving under fire. off, for example. Through a few recurring questions, an overview of the rules for riding in complete safety …

On the same subject

19544 1192761 k2 k1 2797232

Is the box of ampoules mandatory or not?

No. Contrary to popular belief, there is no text obliging you to have a box of spare bulbs in the glove box. It is nevertheless advisable to have one to be able to help you out if necessary. Law enforcement can also be more lenient when it is possible to replace a burnt out lamp on site. But it is according to their “good will”, because the offense is nonetheless constituted (135 € fine incurred, reduced to 90 €). This at least prevents the immobilization of your car. Be careful, the operation is complicated, if not impossible, on some recent cars, and the intervention of a pro, often essential.

Calling the headlights to signal a police check: legal?

In any case, no article of law prohibits it. If the flashing of the headlights is used above all to warn another road user of an immediate danger, it is customary, in France, to signal the presence of law enforcement to motorists arriving in the opposite direction. The authorities do not appreciate this act of solidarity which hinders their work, but a fine for this reason would be excessive and questionable. On the other hand, if the headlights are called up at night, you may be fined for having dazzled other users (article R.416-5 of the highway code): PV of € 135, reduced to € 90.

What do you risk if you forget to turn on your night lights at night?

It all depends on where you are riding and whether there is street light or not. In the first case, even if your behavior may be a source of danger for other users, you will not be penalized. In the second, where the context is much more dangerous (at night or during the day when visibility is insufficient) without lighting or signaling, you incur a fine of € 135 (reduced to € 90), the loss of four points and a suspension of permit possible (article R. 416-11 of the highway code). In the event of a collision with another user who has not seen you, or worse, an accident with injured persons, you may also be sued by the opposing party who could lay the blame on you.

Can the fog lights be used in heavy rain?

It all depends on which ones. Rear fog lights are prohibited, as they dazzle vehicles behind you. Yet many motorists make this mistake and turn them on in heavy rain, when they are only allowed in fog and snowfall. These are liable to a fine of € 135 (reduced to € 90). You have the right, on the other hand, to use the dipped beam headlights supplemented by the front fog lights (article R.416-7) (1).

Is it allowed to change your headlights for more powerful ones?

Yes, as long as it does not exceed 55 watts (ECE R37 standard), the power of a halogen bulb being subject to strict regulations. To see better at night and stay in the nails (2), prefer high-end lamps of the same power which offer up to + 150% of light (Philips RacingVision, Osram Night Breaker Laser …) (3). Avoid those of lower quality, as the beam can generate unlit areas.

Can we replace halogen headlights with leds?

Yes, the lighting and visibility with such bulbs are better, but your car must technically accept them. You just have to respect the light which must be white at the front (possibly yellow), and red at the back. Other advantages of a led bulb, its cold light dazzles less and its lifespan is ten times greater than a halogen on the condition of opting, again, for high-end.

> Avoid failing technical control

No failure of lighting or vehicle signaling is allowed under penalty of a cons-visit … at best. Most common examples:

1) Major faults subject to inspection

> Dipped beam, main beam … defective or missing, resulting in greatly reduced visibility (4).> Wrong orientation of a low beam (outside the required limits).> Color of the brake light (red) or indicators (orange) incorrect, or power too intense or very low.

2) Critical failures resulting in immobilization of the vehicle within 24 hours

> No brake lights or inoperative switch.

(1). Front fog lights can also supplement high beams, outside built-up areas, on narrow and winding roads.

(2). The installation of non-regulatory lights is punishable by a fine of 68 €, reduced to 45 €. Their use is punishable by a fourth class fine, i.e. € 135 reduced to € 90.

(3). See our comparison on “Ampoules +” in n ° 1680 of November 13, 2020.

(4). Headlight washers inoperative and license plate lights included.