Parking lights, I believe, were intended to be used when you are parking. Like idling. However, I rarely see this. Most people don’t bother - either leave all lights off or on as the case may be.
I have seen the practice, in at least three states - Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas. Probably others but not that I can recall vividly. It is not isolated to any few models of car. It is illegal in all three states, but people do it.
I don’t think it’s operator error, thinking they have their lights fully on. A few maybe. Every once in a while you see a car without headlights on and it’s night - they probably have parking lights on and didn’t realize it.
My guess - I see it a lot on overcast days, or at dusk. I suspect it is a case of either turning on the dash lights, or they want the extra visibility of having some lights on without the headlights because they assume that since the headlights aren’t helping them see, they aren’t needed.
Why they continue is that cops don’t bother ticketing for it. It’s not really that unsafe. Sure if you expect them to only be used for parking you could be confused, but I think most sensible people look at whether the car is moving to decide if it is moving, rather than relying on which lights are on.
The biggest problem to me is that they turn on the parking lights and then forget their headlights later. And if you think it should be noticeable, well I once drove 3 blocks with all my lights off at night without realizing it. It was a city street with bright streetlights, so it’s not like I would have seen the light in front of me. I figured it out when someone flashed lights at me. Felt like a total dolt.
…I’m one of those ‘idiots’ who deliberately drives with his parking lights.
Before I explain why, let me raise the obvious question: why is it illegal to do so, where it is illegal, that is? And if so, what are parking lights for, anyway? We all know nobody uses them to park.
Situations where I use parking lights:
Gloomy overcast during the day (no precip). When everything’s kinda gray, the parking lights give a bit of added definition and visibility to a car - and it has to be really gloomy to need headlights in the middle of the day. (If it’s raining, the headlights go on.)
Just before/after sunup, especially at this time of year. When I’m driving to work, it’s light when I leave the house, but the sun isn’t up yet. It’s dark enough in low places in the road to merit some sort of lights, but only there. Headlights seem like overkill. And if I have them on, I’ll forget about them; during the last half of my commute, I’d be driving in full daylight with my headlights on.
When dusk is approaching, but only if it’s a very short trip. I’m just as liable to forget that my headlights are off, as I am to forget that they’re on, if I can see my dash - so I don’t turn my parking lights on at this time of day if where I’m going is 15 minutes away; the light gets a lot worse in 15 minutes.
Feel free to tell me why I’m a misguided soul who shouldn’t be driving.
Parking lights are for parking.
That is why they are called Parking Lights.
I hope the next cop who sees you in hungry lest I am envolved in your accident.
Read “is hungry”.
Some of us can’t drive, some of us can’t type.
I took driver’s ed in Texas, although I live in California now. Our instructor didn’t mention that driving with parking lights only is illegal, but did counsel us not to do it. His reasoning (which I agree with) was thus:
The idea that there are situations in which you need some illumination, but that headlights would be “too much” is kind of silly. If your headlights are properly aligned, you’re not going to be blinding anybody with them, whether it’s broad daylight, dark moonless night, or anywhere in between. Don’t sit there and try to meter your light output; if you need lights, turn them all on.
It’s clear that some posters disagree with this thinking, I realize.
Unless I am really clueless, dont some cars have them permanently on? I drove a 97 VW Jetta for four months and had mine on all the time because I couldnt figure out how to turn them off (though driving onto the inner median of a highway while going 75mph, overcorrecting, flipping over across three lanes of highway and sliding down an embankment, upside down and facing the wrong way sure did turn them off . . permanently) . . Or am I thinking of fog lights?