When driving in the rain, we all know that it makes good sense to slow down, pay attention, turn on our headlights, and turn on our windshield wipers. But, did you also know that it’s the law that you must turn on your headlights whenever you use your windshield wipers?
In fact, the “wipers-on, headlights on” law used in Virginia and many other states was born out of common sense. The requirement that vehicle headlights must be lit when windshield wipers are being operated has been the law in Virginia since 1998. Over the last twenty years, at least eighteen other states have enacted similar legislation.
While we naturally understand that using headlights at nighttime make driving safer, studies show that using headlights during the daytime, and particularly during inclement weather, improve driving safety as well. Using headlights during the daytime has been shown to reduce multiple-vehicle daytime crashes which account for about half of all police-reported crashes in the United States. Using headlights in the daytime has been shown to make it easier for motorists to see vehicle as it approaches, particularly from far away.
Studies conducted after several states enacted “wipers-on, headlamps on” laws like the one in Virginia have compared accident statistics both before and after such laws were enacted. The studies showed dramatic reductions in fatal rainy-weather multiple vehicle crashes, particularly at dawn and dusk. The results of these studies are consistent with the concept that vehicle headlights increase safety not only by providing visibility at night, but also by causing vehicles to be more conspicuous during daytime, during inclement weather.
Under Virginia law specifically, headlights are required during inclement weather, as follows:
When visibility is reduced because of rain, smoke, fog, snow, sleet, insufficient light, or other unfavorable atmospheric conditions, where persons or vehicles are not clearly visible at a distance of 500 feet, or whenever windshield wipers are in use as a result of fog, rain, sleet, or snow.
To sum it up, a good rule of thumb in Virginia, or any other state, is “Wipers on? Headlights on!”
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of someone else, the attorneys at Allen & Allen are here to help. Call us for a free consultation at 1-866-388-1307.