Headlights need to be turned on during rain

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Fatal crashes are a fear for every driver in the United States. According to information provided by the Federal Highway Administration, in 2001 approximately 6.3 million crashes occurred on highways across the U.S. While the majority of accidents occurred during the day, most of the fatalities in that year happened during the night, or when drivers’ visibility was severely compromised, according to the article.

There is debate about how often headlights should be used when driving. Some states, such as Alabama, require the use of headlights in several circumstances during what would normally be considered daylight hours, such as when visibility is less than 500 feet, 30 minutes before sunrise and after sunset, and when windshield wipers are in use, according to Alabama state codes.

The state of Mississippi requires that headlights be used from sunset to sunrise and when there is not sufficient light to clearly see five hundred feet ahead. However, unlike in Alabama, headlights are not required when windshield wipers are in use.

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According to statistics by the Federal Highway Administration, between 2005 and 2014, more than 1.2 million crashes occurred due to weather conditions. Of those crashes, nearly 6,000 people were killed. While snow, fog and sleet all played a significant role in those crashes, approximately 47 percent of weather-related fatalities occurred due to rainy conditions. In addition to using headlights while driving in the rain, leaving lights on during the day in ideal weather conditions is also recommended. According to a study done by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the use of headlights in the day makes vehicles “more conspicuous to other drivers” and reduces the rate of collisions by 5 to 10 percent. The high number of daytime crashes combined with the even higher rate of weather-related accidents is what has led many states to increase headlight requirements. While residents of Pearl River County do not often have to worry about snow or sleet, it is a good idea to leave headlights on at all times for the sake of every driver’s safety.