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4/3/2014 10:19:00 AM
Wisconsin State Patrol Law of the Month: April 2014
State law requires headlight use so you can see and be seen
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reminds drivers of the state law to begin using headlights one-half hour after sunset until one-half hour before sunrise, for safety reasons.Dean Hall photograph

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reminds drivers of the state law to begin using headlights one-half hour after sunset until one-half hour before sunrise, for safety reasons.

Dean Hall photograph

If you can see traffic around you and be seen by other drivers, your chances of reaching your destination safely obviously improve. That’s why the Wisconsin State Patrol reminds drivers to turn on their headlights when needed.

According to state law, you must use headlights during hours of darkness, which is defined as “the period of time from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise and all other times when there is not sufficient natural light to render clearly visible any person or vehicle upon a highway at a distance of 500 feet.”

To increase headlight effectiveness, you should use high beams whenever there are no oncoming vehicles because high beams let you see twice as far, advises Captain Nicholas R. Wanink of the Wisconsin State Patrol North Central Region-Wausau post.

“However, you must dim your high beams whenever you approach an oncoming vehicle within 500 feet, which is about one-tenth of a mile. High beams also should be dimmed when you are 500 feet or less behind another vehicle or when traffic is heavy,” Captain Wanink said. “Low beams should be used when driving in fog or heavy rain because the light from high beams will reflect off the precipitation and cause glare. Don’t drive with only your parking lights on. Parking lights are for parking only,”

A citation for failing to use headlights when required or failing to dim high beams within 500 feet of another vehicle will cost drivers $162.70 plus three demerit points.

“Besides helping you see the road and other vehicles, headlights also make your vehicle more visible to other drivers,” Captain Wanink said. “This is especially true on rainy or foggy days. A sensible rule to follow is that if you turn on your windshield wipers also turn on your headlights.”

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