Motorists should be aware of laws requiring use of headlights

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        Now that winter weather has arrived in the area, it is time to review Ohio laws requiring the use of headlights.
        Every driver should know that Ohio Revised Code section 4513.03 stipulates headlights are to be turned on between sunset to sunrise, but that is not the only requirement for use of headlights. That same section of Ohio law also stipulates headlights are to be used when atmospheric or other conditions result in objects in the roadway at 1,000 feet not being
discernible. The most common of these conditions would be fog.
        Yet another condition requiring the use of headlights is any time windshield wipers are on due to precipitation.
        There are a couple of things that are noteworthy when discussing this topic. First, the law does not distinguish any difference between driving in the country or in a city or village. In other words, if you are driving in a city or village, you are still required to have your headlights on if your wipers are on due to precipitation.
        Note, the ORC does not differentiate between the types of precipitation. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, snowing or ice is coming down. If you own a later model General Motors vehicle or some other make that has daytime driving lights, these are not the same as headlights and do not meet the aforementioned requirements. One of the reasons for this is simple. Other laws require vehicles to have taillights illuminated if the headlights are turned on, and DDLs do not activate taillights on most vehicles so equipped.
        I was astonished recently when we had heavy fog in the area and saw so many vehicles whose drivers did not have headlights turned on. Likewise, there were several vehicles with no headlights on during last week’s snowfall.
        If a crash results from a vehicle not being seen during such conditions, the driver whose headlights were not on could be found to be totally or partially at fault.
        In the days before vehicle manufacturers installed warning buzzers when your headlights are being left on when you turn off the ignition, arguments – flimsy ones –could have been made for not turning on your headlights as required. That no longer holds any water whatsoever now, so why take a chance of getting injured or injuring someone else just because you didn’t follow the law?
        This article is a public service from the Community Policing/Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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