We've been told as long as we've driven that if our wipers are on, our headlights should be on. Anyone who doubts that for a second should have their mind changed after seeing a new photo.

In Iowa, and throughout the Midwest, we're accustomed to difficult travel conditions both below our tires and in front of our windshield. Snow, sleet, and ice can make for touch traction, creating challenges in getting from one place to another during the winter.

Visibility is a whole different matter, and perhaps even more dangerous. Whether it's raining, snowing, or foggy, headlights are a must no matter what time of day it is.

I think we all focus on what's ahead of us when we're behind the wheel. However, a new photo from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning reminds us that what's behind us can also do a lot of harm. Especially if we don't know it's there.

The photo below was posted with the warning "THIS is why you need to ALWAYS use your headlights when it rains." As I mentioned earlier, I'd add 'or is foggy, or snowing.'

As you can see, thanks to the red arrow, a vehicle is traveling in the rain without its headlights on. It completely blends in on the soaked side mirror of the vehicle where the photograph was taken. Not using their headlights has put that driver in a dangerous, never-ending blind spot.

Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning
Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning

In Iowa,  here's the 'When lighted lamps required' law:

  1. Every motor vehicle upon a highway within the state, at any time from sunset to sunrise, and at such other times when conditions such as fog, snow, sleet, or rain provide insufficient lighting to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles on the highway at a distance of five hundred feet ahead, shall display lighted headlamps as provided in section 321.415, subject to exceptions with respect to parked vehicles as provided in this chapter. However, an all-terrain vehicle shall display lighted headlamps as provided in section 321.415 at all times while the vehicle is operated on a highway.
  2. Whenever a requirement is established in this chapter as to the distance from which certain lamps and devices shall render objects visible or within which such lamps or devices shall be visible, that requirement shall apply during the times stated in subsection 1 of this section upon a straight level unlighted highway under normal atmospheric conditions unless a different time or condition is expressly stated.

To stay safe behind the wheel, we need to see and be seen. When in doubt, we should always turn on our headlights.

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