Wipers On? Headlights On

Virginia is a “wipers-on,
headlamps on” state, which means that the law requires drivers to turn on their
headlights whenever they need to use their windshield wipers.[1] The law explains that drivers must use
headlights from sunset to sunrise, when visibility is reduced due to weather
conditions or low lighting, and
whenever windshield wipers are in use. [2] Although Virginia was one of the first
states to enact this law in 1998, in the past decade, many other states have
followed suit, and enacted similar laws. [3]

The Virginia law makes
sense, because headlights not only increase visibility for the driver of the
vehicle, but also vehicles with their headlights on are more visible to other
drivers. This helps reduce multiple-car
crashes because drivers can better see each other on the road. The crashes most reduced are those due to
inclement weather during the daytime. Before the legislation was enacted, drivers may not have used headlights
in these instances, because it is technically daytime and headlights are
typically used at night. However, the
decreased visibility caused by inclement weather increases the need for
headlights. In 2011, researchers found
that “wipers-on, headlamps-on” laws did in fact lead to reductions in daytime
crashes due to inclement weather. [4] Specifically, the odds of being killed
in a multiple-vehicle crash during daytime rain are about 7 percent lower in
states with “wipers-on, headlamps-on” laws.[5]

Follow the law, and
improve safety on roads by always turning on your headlights on when your
windshield wipers are on.



[1] See Va. Code § 46.2-1030.

[2] This can be as a
result of fog, rain, sleet or snow. Id.

[3] See Headlight Use, AAA Digest of Motor Laws, http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/headlight-use/.

[4] See Bullough, J.D., Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute, Daytime Use of Automotive Headlamps During Inclement
Weather: Safety and Conspicuity, December 2011. 

[5] Id.

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