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Insight from WFPD: Use your lights to see and be seen

As our daylight hours begin to shorten with the change of seasons we would like to remind you of the requirements relating to the use of lights on your motor vehicle. North Dakota law states the following:

39-21-01. When lighted lamps are required. Subject to exceptions with respect to parked vehicles, every vehicle upon a highway within this state must display lighted lamps and illuminating devices as required in this chapter for different classes of vehicles as follows:

1. At any time from sunset to sunrise, every farm tractor upon a highway within this state at any time from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise;

2. At any time when it is raining, snowing, sleeting, or hailing or during other adverse driving conditions and these conditions do not render a person or vehicle on the highway clearly discernible at a distance of one thousand feet [304.8 meters] ahead; or

3. At any other time when visibility is impaired by weather, smoke, fog, or other conditions, or when there is insufficient light to render a person or vehicle on the highway clearly discernible at a distance of one thousand feet [304.8 meters] ahead.

Stoplights, turn signals, and other signaling devices must be lighted as prescribed for the use of such devices.

During the pre-dawn and dusk of the day it is easy to forget to turn on your lights. You are able to make out the roadway using the available light and objects are for the most part still visible. The requirement for the use of headlamps and tail lamps during dawn and dusk is less about you being able to see but relates more to your vehicle being seen by pedestrians and other drivers on the roadway. The law is specific about the requirement to use headlamps. It is a violation to use only the parking lamps while driving when headlamps are otherwise required.

A second concern for safety is any situation during which visibility is impaired. The law indicates you are required to turn on your lights anytime precipitation is occurring or when other existing conditions affect your ability to clearly see another vehicle or person at a distance of one thousand feet. As a comparison, this distance is slightly more that three city blocks.

Newer vehicles are equipped with daytime running lights to increase observation of the vehicle by other drivers and increase safety. If your vehicle is not equipped with daytime running lights, you can choose safety and turn on your lights any time you drive.

Be safe, be seen and stay alive.