When should people put on their headlights?

Published 9:53 am Friday, February 27, 2015

Question: Doesn’t Minnesota have a law that requires headlights if you have your wipers on? How does that relate to automatic daytime running lights? Those don’t seem to activate taillights or trailer lights.

Answer: Minnesota does have a law requiring drivers to have their headlights on. Windshield wipers being on alone does not require headlights to be activated, but chances are the reason you are using your wipers is due to the weather which according to Minnesota State Statute would require you to have headlights on.

Troy Christianson

Troy Christianson

Minnesota State Statute 169.48 Subd.1 Lights to be displayed.

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Every vehicle upon a highway within this state:

(1) at any time from sunset to sunrise

(2) at any time when it is raining, snowing, sleeting, or hailing

(3) at any other time when visibility is impaired by weather, smoke, fog or other conditions or there is not sufficient light to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles on the highway at a distance of 500 feet ahead

Shall display lighted headlamps, lighted tail lamps, and illuminating devices…

You bring up a good point of thought. A lot of vehicles are equipped with automatic “daytime” lights that are fine on clear and sunny days. But when there is rain, snow, sleet, hail, smoke, fog, etc. the sensor may not activate the lights to the rear. Every driver is still responsible for turning those on. I strongly suggest getting out of the vehicle, walking around it, and making sure those are all working. It’s not so you can see better, but so others can see you better.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson — Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848. Or reach him at, Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us.

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.