Question: Could you please remind drivers of the headlight law and when they should be on. I live in the Hibbing area and I have experienced a few “scary situations” the past couple years and I am very disappointed at the number of drivers who fail to abide by this law. Thank you for your attention on this matter.
Answer: I talk about this a lot, but I am happy to do so again. I agree that it is an important safety issue. I will remind readers of what the law says, but I will first say that I always instruct drivers to just put the headlights on all the time. Then they don’t have to worry or wonder if they are driving legally or not. Even on the so-called “automatic headlights,” over-ride the headlight switch (turn it on) because then the tail lights and all other required lights will come on too, and you will be safe as well as legal. Studies show that you are much safer driving with them on all the time anyway because other motorists see you better, which is especially important during low light periods such as the winter season.
The law itself (169.48 Subdivision 1) says in part that every vehicle upon a highway within this state shall display lighted head lamps, lighted tail lamps and illuminating devices, as hereinafter, respectively, required for different classes of vehicles, subject to exceptions with respect to parked vehicles and law enforcement vehicles:
• At any time from sunset to sunrise.
• At any time when it is raining, snowing, sleeting or hailing.
• At any other time when visibility is impaired by weather, smoke, fog or other conditions or there is not sufficient light to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles on the highway at a distance of 500 feet ahead.
The law also says that parking lamps shall not be used in lieu of head lamps to satisfy the requirements of having to have headlights on. Portions of state statutes were used with permission of the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.