Question: I notice that sometimes drivers forget to dim their headlights. Is it legal to “flick” from low beams to high beams as a reminder? I know it is probably not a good idea, but I just want to see what you have to say about it.
Answer: According to M.S.S. 169.61, if you are within 1,000 feet of an oncoming vehicle, you have to dim your lights. So, it would be “against the law” to put your bright lights on, too. It would be legal if you are not within 1,000 feet, but it is not recommended to do so, for many reasons. One good reason is that it could spark a road rage incident. Another good reason is that you will have two blinded drivers coming toward each other (instead of just one) making for a bad situation. Also, the law does not differentiate between a two laned or four laned roadway when it comes to the dimming law.
What can you do then? When you are meeting the driver displaying bright lights, simply slow down immediately (because that’s a hazard) and look down and to the right near the fog line (away from the bright lights) until that vehicle passes by or dims their lights.
Another issue closely related to that one is when you have to dim your headlights when coming up behind another vehicle (when following). M.S.S. 169.61 also says if you are within 200 feet (behind another vehicle) you have to have your dim (lower beam) headlights on, not the bright headlights. Again, with the good headlights we have today, you are probably blinding that driver ahead much sooner (farther away) than 200 feet, so take that into consideration as well.
Everyone needs to take personal responsibility for their own actions behind the wheel. If you want to be safer, drive with your headlights on all the time, but just be careful of those bright lights! Thanks for asking.
If you have any questions for future columns concerning motor vehicle traffic in Minnesota, please send your questions to: “ASK A TROOPER” c/o Sgt. Curt S. Mowers, MN State Patrol, P.O. Box 644, Brainerd, MN, 56401, or email questions to email@example.com with Ask a Trooper in the subject line. Questions are edited.