When to turn on your headlights in Virginia

When are drivers required to illuminate their headlights?  Attorney Ashley Davis breaks down Virginia law on when you should turn on your headlights.

headlights at night stops two pedestrians from being hit

When are headlights required in Virginia?

  1. Drivers must use headlights at night.  Virginia does not specify the exact hours that headlights should be used.  Instead, the law requires drivers to use headlights from sunset to sunrise.
  2. Drivers must use headlights during poor weather conditions.  The law states that headlights must be used at any time that rain, smoke, fog, snow, sleet, insufficient light, or other unfavorable atmospheric conditions reduce visibility to a degree whereby persons or vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 500 feet.
  3. Finally, drivers must use headlights whenever windshield wipers are being used as a result of fog, rain, sleet, or snow.  However, headlights are not required when windshield wipers are being used intermittently in misting rain, sleet, or snow.

Failing to use headlights at night or during inclement weather conditions can result in a citation (“traffic ticket”). Drivers who fail to use headlights when their windshield wipers are on will not get a citation unless the police officer stops or arrests them on suspicion of violating some other traffic law, local ordinance, or criminal statute.

headlights on cars on a mountain road at dusk

Should I leave my headlights on during the day?

Many car manufacturers are beginning to produce models where headlights are on at all times, even during the day. Daytime headlight usage reduced the number of car accidents by 5.7% and reduced pedestrian accidents by 12%.  There was even a 23% drop in motorcycle accidents involving vehicles coming from the other direction.

Headlights are required by law because they improve a driver’s ability to see and to be seen by other people and vehicles. Knowing when to use them can improve traffic safety and reduce the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident due to poor visibility.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another driver, whether from the lack of headlights or distracted driving, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Allen & Allen today for a free consultation at 866-388-1307.