Driving at night can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially for new drivers or those with limited experience on the road. It's natural to want to turn on the interior lights of your car for better visibility or to locate something inside the vehicle. However, there has been ongoing debate about whether it is illegal to do so. In this article, we will explore the laws and safety implications of driving with the interior lights on in your car.

The Legal Perspective

Highway Code

In the United Kingdom, the Highway Code is a set of guidelines and rules for road users that are legally enforceable. While it does not have the same status as legislation, it can be used in court to establish liability in the event of a road traffic collision or other legal dispute.

The Highway Code states that drivers "MUST NOT use any lights in a way which would dazzle or cause discomfort to other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and horse riders." This implies that using interior lights while driving could potentially distract or dazzle other road users, especially in low light conditions.

MOT Requirements

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) is responsible for setting the standards for vehicle safety, roadworthiness, and emissions in the UK. While their guidelines primarily focus on the external lights of a vehicle, such as headlights, brake lights, and indicators, there are no specific regulations regarding the use of interior lights while driving.

The Safety Perspective

Distracted Driving

One of the primary concerns associated with driving with interior lights on is the potential for distraction. When interior lights are illuminated, it can create a glare or reflection on the windshield, which may impede the driver's vision, especially in low light or nighttime conditions. This distraction could increase the risk of a road traffic collision.


On the flip side, having the interior lights on can provide better visibility inside the vehicle, allowing the driver and passengers to locate items, read maps, or adjust controls more easily. This can contribute to a safer and more comfortable driving experience, particularly during long journeys or when driving in unfamiliar areas.

Night Vision

Another consideration is the impact of interior lights on night vision. For some individuals, especially those with age-related vision changes, the presence of bright interior lights can make it more challenging to adapt to low light conditions outside the vehicle. This could potentially affect their ability to see hazards or obstacles on the road.

The Verdict

In conclusion, the legal framework in the UK does not explicitly prohibit driving with interior lights on. However, there are practical and safety considerations that drivers should take into account.

Best Practices

To ensure the safety of all road users and minimize distractions, it is advisable to follow these best practices:

  1. Minimize Interior Light Use: Use interior lights sparingly and only when necessary, especially when driving at night.

  2. Adjust Dashboard Brightness: Many modern vehicles allow drivers to adjust the brightness of their dashboard lights. Setting these to a lower intensity can reduce glare and potential distractions.

  3. Consider Passenger Needs: If passengers need to use interior lights, encourage them to do so discreetly and avoid shining lights directly into the driver's field of vision.

  4. Plan Ahead: If you anticipate needing to find something inside the vehicle or read a map, try to do so before setting off or during a safe and convenient break in your journey.

Personal Responsibility

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each driver to use their discretion when it comes to using interior lights while driving. Safety should always be the top priority, and any actions that may compromise one's ability to drive safely should be avoided.


While there is no specific legislation that explicitly forbids driving with interior lights on in the UK, it is essential for drivers to be mindful of potential distractions and safety implications. By exercising caution and utilizing interior lights judiciously, drivers can enhance their visibility and comfort without compromising road safety. It is also important to stay informed about any updated guidelines or regulations regarding the use of interior lights in vehicles to ensure compliance with the law and maintain a safe driving environment for all road users.

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