Can You Show Me How…

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Something that has come to my attention of late is the use by Driving Examiners of what amounts to ‘slang’ language in the pre-drive checkThe list of things that can be asked about during the pre-drive check – the check that the driver understands and can display the operation of at least two separate items within a vehicle cockpit – includes an understanding of how to switch the cars headlights from high beam to low beam once another vehicle comes within 200 metres at night. The terminology used does not appear correct.

The list of Pre-Drive Checks that can be questioned are:

Choke (Note 1) RE, R
Side stand RE, R
Fuel/reserve (Note 1) RE, R
Kill switch RE, R
Mirrors (Note 2) RE, R, C, LR, MR, HR, HC
Headlights/dip RE, R, C, LR, MR, HR, HC
Wipers C, LR, MR, HR, HC
Washers C, LR, MR, HR, HC
Demister C, LR, MR, HR, HC
Air conditioner C, LR, MR, HR, HC
Hazard lights C, LR, MR, HR, HC
Seat adjustment (Note 3) C, LR, MR, HR, HC
Auxiliary brake (Note 4) MR, HR, HC
Trailer brake (if relevant) MR, HR, HC
Note___________________________________________ 1. For class R and RE, applicants should be seated on the motorcycle to locate, explain or adjust the fuel tap and choke if not located on the handle bars. The DE is to request that this be performed without looking at the controls. Applicants must be allowed to observe the choke control if located near the engine. 2. Applicant must locate all the mirrors and explain how they are adjusted using the appropriate controls. They are not required to explain what is visible in the mirrors. 3. Applicant must locate all seat adjustment controls and explain to the DE how they are to be used. 4. For the purposes of Q-SAFE, auxiliary brake means engine/exhaust brake.

Important Notes_________________________________ – The DE should advise the applicant they may explain the operation of controls with the ignition key switched off. This prevents any possible damage that may occur (for example, windscreen wipers on a dry screen). – Some vehicles will not have all the controls detailed in the pre-drive check (for example, air conditioner). The DE is required to assess the relevant controls that are present in the test vehicle. – Applicants are only required to locate and explain the functional operation of controls listed in the section 4.2.

The above is a direct copy from the Driving Examiner Assessment Procedures Manual. That manual covers ALL licence classes so the people I deal with need only concern themselves with classes C and CA. You will note the item in question is highlighted above.

The item questions the driver’s understanding of switching on and off the vehicles headlights – which is the “headlights” part. The “dip” part is not well understood by new drivers and that is not surprising as the terminology of ‘dipping’ one’s headlights is outdated and obsolete.

In times long ago, a vehicle’s headlights were switched from low beam – the normal lighting position for any vehicle within a built-up area – to high beam, a lighting position used ONLY on the open highway outside of any built-up area and outside of a 200 metre exclusion area of any other vehicle, by the action of pressing on a floor mounted 2-way kick switch. This floor-mounted kick switch was known as a “DIP SWITCH”. THE DIP SWITCHIn the modern era, a vehicle’s headlights are controlled via the indicator stalk, usually located to the right of the steering column. In most modern vehicles, twisting the end of the indicator stalk turns the headlights on to low beam, or the normal lighting position.


A tell-tale light should appear on the dashboard indicating the headlights are on. Pushing the entire indicator stalk forward switches the headlights from low beam, to high beam. This involves activating a separate set of special purpose lights of higher wattage. Most modern vehicles have 2 sets of headlights. One for low beam, the other specifically for high

beam. When on high beam, a blue indicator light should appear on the dashboard.HIGHBEAM ON

The act of switching a vehicle’s headlights from high beam to low beam – or switching

the vehicles high beam off – is still, in the modern era, referred to as ‘dipping’ the headlights. No 16/17 year old that I have ever met understands what ‘dipping’ their headlights means. Hence this post.

So, if your driving examiner asks you to show them how you switch on the vehicle’s headlights, select high beam, and then “dip” the headlights, they are asking you to turn the headlights on, select high beam, then show them how you would switch off the high beam setting when within a built-up area or within 200 metres of another vehicle. “Dipping” is a slang term which harks back 60 or 70 years to the days when cars had a ‘dip switch’ mounted on the floor to control this function.

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