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  • Writer's picturethe_tow_guy

Please learn to use your headlights and BTW parking lights are NOT headlights!

Stay tuned. Next blog entry will concern Move Over, a subject near and dear to my heart (and the rest of my body as well). with no headlights or, just as bad, driving with Parking Lights only. [Side note: I will never be able to figure these people out; if visibility is bad enough to need lights, wouldn't you turn the headlights on? Parking lights are for - TA-DA - when you are parked! I haven't fully researched, but I suspect that it is illegal in all 50 states; I know it's illegal in Florida]

Okay, back to the monologue. There are two primary reasons to use headlights in the rain (and when it's dark; more on that later). #1 - To see where you are going and, #2 - To be seen by others, both from the front AND the back! Now, I know modern automotive technology has brought us automatic headlights and daytime running lights (DRL's), but here's the rub: The sensor for the auto headlights may not sense enough darkness when it is raining. Even in a blinding rain storm, the ambient lighting can be fairly bright. When it's raining, go ahead and flick the headlights on full manually. It's the LAW.

As to the DRL's, not a bad innovation, but here's the rub with those: #1 - They are not as bright as your headlights in most cases, although some makes/models use full headlight power in their DRL's. #2 - On many makes & models the DRL's do not illuminate the taillights! So in the pouring rain (or after dark) although you may have fine visibility from the front, your rear could be nearly invisible. I see this all the time and it's scary. So, echoing my previous advice: When it's raining, go ahead and flick the headlights on full manually.

Let's talk about night driving and the proper time to turn those headlights on - headlights, folks; if you're moving, you are no longer "parked". Here's what Florida law says about parking lights:

"Whenever a vehicle is parked or stopped upon a roadway or shoulder adjacent thereto outside of a municipality, whether attended or unattended, during the hours between sunset and sunrise and there is insufficient light to reveal any person or object within a distance of 1,000 feet upon such highway, the vehicle so parked or stopped shall be equipped with and shall display lamps meeting the requirements of subsection (1)." AND it is illegal to drive with only the parking lights lit.

As with driving in the rain, if you need to turn lights on due to darkness, go ahead and flick the headlights on full manually.

And I will add, be careful of those handy DRL's; as mentioned, many of them do not include lighting the taillights. I see this ALL the time after dark, people whizzing down the road in front of me, nearly invisible, because they are running on the DRL's.

Here's the official word on use of lights after dark and in reduced visibility:

"316.217 When lighted lamps are required.—

(1) Every vehicle operated upon a highway within this state shall display lighted lamps and illuminating devices as herein respectively required for different classes of vehicles, subject to exceptions with respect to parked vehicles, under the following conditions;(a) At any time from sunset to sunrise including the twilight hours. Twilight hours shall mean the time between sunset and full night or between full night and sunrise".

Pretty easy to understand and yet I see folks tooling along well after sundown with no lights or (broken record time) illegally running on parking lights only (or the DRL's with no taillights lit).

Stay tuned. Next blog entry will concern Move Over, a subject near and ear to my heart (and the rest of my body as well).

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