When you get behind the wheel of a car, you have a lot of responsibilities. Most of us don't think of driving as an execution of one responsibility after another, but it really is. Oh, and my mom always said, driving is a privilege and not a right.

One of the major responsibilities motorists in Iowa, and everywhere have is the responsibility to drive safely. It's the core of driving, right? Safe driving is the most basic element of driving.

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After that, there are laws. Laws galore centering around driving. From speed limits, when to stop and wait, to turn signal usage to use of headlights, to drive safely and legally is to follow one rule after another.

Actually, I wanted to drill down on one of those. The whole headlight thing. If you buy a car in 2022, that vehicle will very likely handle the headlights for you automatically. In fact, auto headlights have been around for some time.


Something that you still have full control over, your brights...

Photo by Alexander Jawfox on Unsplash
Photo by Alexander Jawfox on Unsplash

While newer cars do have an auto brights/dim feature, drivers can always toggle their bright lights on and off. We've all been on the road and experienced a driver coming from the opposite direction with their brights still on. Maybe you've done it to a fellow motorist. But have you ever questioned the legality?

Believe it or not, it's illegal to keep your brights on when you see oncoming traffic.

Iowa Legislation actually states:

Whenever a driver of a vehicle approaches an oncoming vehicle within one thousand feet, the driver shall use a distribution of light, or composite beam, so aimed that the glaring rays are not projected into the eyes of the oncoming driver.

That's fancy legal jargon for, turn your brights off... the legislation continues:

The lowermost distribution of light, or composite beam, shall be deemed to avoid glare at all times, regardless of road contour and loading AND whenever the driver of a vehicle follows another vehicle within four hundred feet to the rear, except when engaged in the act of overtaking and passing.

No one wants to be blinded from behind...

Cars long lights in rear view mirror
Goran Jakus Photography

So what is the penalty if a police officer pops you for leaving your brights on in one of those scenarios? Well, it's never explicitly laid out in that piece of legislation, but you can assume the officer could nail you for some sort of moving violation. And that's an easily avoided ticket. Also, it's annoying and makes you a jerk. Just saying.

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