Wipers on? Headlights on!

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?

driving in the rain

What is the Headlights on? Wipers on! law?

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 makes 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 weather-related crashes which account for about 22% of total crashes. Using headlights in the daytime has been shown to make it easier for motorists to see the vehicle as it approaches, particularly from far away.

driving in the rain

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.

When should you use your headlights?

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
  • Whenever windshield wipers are in use as a result of fog, rain, sleet, or snow

Headlights should also be used from sunset to sunrise, regardless of weather conditions.

When should you use your high-beam headlights?

High beam headlights should only be used in low visibility areas with no other vehicles within 500 feet. Never use your high-beam headlights if there is any inclement weather, including rain, snow, ice, or fog. The fog or precipitation will reflect the light back at the windshield, making it highly difficult to see.

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.