Ask a Trooper: Vehicle headlights are not always automatic

Published 8:40 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

Question: Can someone please tell dealers or inform people that their auto lights do not work during daylight hours? Or put it on those digital signs along the interstates? I did not know this when I bought my ’05 Vibe and someone told me that. So when we had these storms and fog, there are people driving without lights at all or no tail lights and when it is a white or silver vehicle makes it worse.

Answer: We have been fighting that battle for many years now and I hear about it all the time from people. I have always taught motorists to drive with their headlights on at all times, even during the day, so they can avoid the whole issue of when to have headlights on. Even if you think you have headlights on all the time, you might not. Turn them on manually; then you will know for sure.

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Daytime running lights cannot be used in lieu of actual headlights during the times that actual headlights are required to be on. During those required times of headlights, all the other lights also are required (e.g., tail lights, marker lamps, etc.). Those other lights are not always on when the so-called “automatic” lights are on either.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

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 St. NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848; or reach him at Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us.

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.